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Plan to Replace Downed Trees Stirs Controversy

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RALEIGH — There are far fewer trees in the Triangleand surrounding areas than there were before Hurricane Fran took many ofthem down, and while people have tired of the hauling away process, someare thinking it might be nice to have new ones to replace the old.

So, it was appropriate that a free-tree promotion has already gottenunderway. Whatissurprising is that there is controversysurrounding the plan.

Forestry officials, who first agreed to supply seedlings for an ArborDay seedling giveaway, now say they have serious questions about theorganization making the free-tree offer.

Arbor Day is a non-profit group that advertises free trees on theInternet, but it appears some people have been hit with a tough pitch fordonations in exchange for the seedlings.

The North Carolina Forestry Service became concerned after threestaffers called Arbor Day's toll-free number. Forester Lisa Shell saysthey had to question what they heard.

An Arbor Day spokesperson says the donations are not mandatory, butShell says that's not the impression one gets on the telephone with theorganization.

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A donation, the caller said, would have guaranteed 35 seedlings, butmany of the trees probably wouldn't grow in North Carolina while someothers would not be able to thrive if they did grow.

Arbor Day says it's being "bullied" by the forestry service. Shell saysthat's not the case. She says they are raising concerns on behalf of thepeople of North Carolina.

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