Local News

Plan to Replace Downed Trees Stirs Controversy

Posted October 15, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

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

So, it was appropriate that a free-tree promotion has already gotten underway. Whatissurprising is that there is controversy surrounding the plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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