A community-wide initiative to document Leon County’s oldest and most historically significant trees is underway. This is the first government-backed effort to record Leon’s trees.
A crowd of onlookers cheered after a looming and mossy live-oak tree was recorded in front of the Leon County Courthouse. The tree was the first submission of the Great Tree Challenge, an initiative formed in collaboration by the Leon County Board of Commissioners and a citizen group called Leon Trees. The challenge invites all Leon residents to find qualifying trees throughout the county. Qualification is determined by the age, circumference, or location of a tree. Residents can post pictures of a tree to the website LeonTrees.org.
Founder of Leon Trees Tabitha Frazier says the challenge is inspired by the need to protect and celebrate the county’s natural and historical landmarks.
“It became aware to me that we’ve never done an inventory of the trees in our community," Frazier says. "So that’s kind of the basic impetus behind this, is let’s find out where the trees are that are valuable to this community.”
Frazier says the last time any documentation was attempted was in 1974 by the Tallahassee Historical Society. But they only recorded live oak trees. This time around, the search includes Magnolia, Dogwood, and Long Leaf pine.
Leon County Commission Chairwoman Mary Ann Lindley says this is also a chance for the local government to engage with the community.
“You know, I mean, look around here. It’s gorgeous," she says. "People really like living in an environment that’s beautiful. And they need to know that government is doing some things to protect those qualities, the things that you enjoy.”
The idea for LeonTrees.org was originally conceived at a meeting between citizens and government officials back in March.
The Great Tree Challenge closes on January 20, 2015.
For more information and to submit trees visit www.LeonTrees.org/challenge.html.