The Jefferson Heritage Tree Council (JHTC)
Mission: To secure the many benefits of a healthy, diverse and expansive tree canopy for present and future generations of Jeffersonians.
History: On Arbor Day 2007, JHTC was established as the official tree board for the City of Jefferson, with five founding members representing a range of forestry, arboricultural and environmental expertise and experience. Over the past several years, membership has expanded and currently stands at eleven voting members.
Initiatives: Since its inception, JHTC has developed several events and programs for the purpose of preserving a healthy tree canopy and of educating Jefferson residents and city officials about the benefits and resource value of community trees.
- Jefferson Tree Establishment Fund (donations go toward planting community trees)
- Heritage Tree Program (nominations sought annually in the Fall)
- Curry Creek Park Clean-up (annual Earth Day celebration)
- Folliage Fest (annual Spring tree sale and music festival)
- Gift Tree Program (tree purchases/sponsorships - year round planting - annual)
- Homeowner Tree Assessment Services (year round)
Accomplishments: Since 2007, in partnership with the City of Jefferson (with additional support from the Georgia Forestry Commission, Jefferson City Schools, Main Street Jefferson, Keep Jackson County Beautiful, and the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce), the Heritage Tree Council has utilized the technical expertise of a team of urban forestry professionals to achieve a number of significant milestones:
- Planted over 230 trees throughout the city.
- Obtained grant funding totaling $90,240 for tree planting, professional community forest management, and special project coordination.
- Retained a consulting City Forester and a contract City Arborist.
- Inventoried and assessed all of Jefferson’s street, park, school, and city facility trees.
- Developed the Jefferson Tree Steward program to enlist the help of community volunteers with city tree maintenance.
- Conducted a city-wide tree canopy cover measurement (Jefferson had 55.8% tree cover and 11.3% impervious surface as of February 2009).
- Developed a voluntary tree cover tracking system to help determine net change in tree canopy on public and private property.
- Provided specialized tree maintenance training to city, school, and local green industry personnel; held a tree planting and conservation workshop for Jefferson homeowners.
- Conducted demonstrations on commercial sites to highlight the value of trees for moderating surface temperatures and providing other environmental benefits/services.
- Completed a review of the city’s tree protection ordinances and recommended revisions to increase effectiveness in producing desired outcomes (revisions approved July 2011).
- Developed the City of Jefferson Sustainable Community Forest Master Plan (officially adopted January 2011).
- Established an official sustainable community forestry management program with a 2011 budget of $38,681(utilizing a combination of city funds, grants, and donations)