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What’s the Best Tree for a Treehouse?

Photo by Mark W. LaSalle

Bare root trees of all kinds were dolled out in the misty rain in Ocean Springs on Saturday, February 12th, as part of the annual tree giveaway, sponsored by the Ocean Springs Environmental Alliance and the City of Ocean Springs. In its third year, this event has grown to engage an ever-expanding list of partners that help distribute plants but also learn about the value of trees in our communities.

Boy Scouts from Troop 228 in Vancleave and members of the Ocean Spring Mayor’s Youth Council were a big help wrapping trees selected by residents of all ages who came to choose from Live Oak, White Oak, Cherrybark Oak, Black Gum and Pecan. Bags of flower bulbs were also shared, while they lasted, packaged by the Youth Council, provided by the Mississippi Urban Forest Council. Thanks to Alderman Ricky Authement for transport from Jackson.

Spirts were high despite the rain and folks were happy for the chance to add a tree or two to their yards. And as much as this attitude helped carry us through the gloom of a winter day, the best story of the day was about a simple question from a child. A beautiful 8-year old girl shyly asked me what kind of tree would be the best for building a tree house. My answer was swift, but that was not the best part of this encounter. This young girl was thinking ahead!

As she proudly held her little Live Oak in her hands, I explained that her tree would hopefully grow fast enough to allow Dad to one day build that tree house in its branches. I knew full well that it would not quite get there by the time she finished high school. But what I also know is that this young child will care for and value “her” tree as it does grow over the next few years. Of the hundreds of trees that we gave away today, I know that this tree will make it! Perhaps her children will use that treehouse.

Our connections to the natural world are real, whether we realize or appreciate them or not, especially our fondness for trees. To stand next to a tree that is hundreds of years old is to wonder about what it has witnessed over time. To know that a small tree planted today will outlive us is to understand that someday, someone else will stand next to it and perhaps have the same thoughts. They will of course not know that a young red-headed girl planted it so many years past. But for us today, that bright-eyed young girl is a living example of the hope of the future – for the trees that are important elements of our lives.

Can’t wait for next year!

Hope to see you in our great outdoors!


Written by Mark W. LaSalle, Ph.D.

Mark is a naturalist and wetland ecologist, providing expertise on wetlands, water quality and environmental impacts of humans. He has also developed and conducted a number of environmental education programs and workshops for youth, teachers, realtors, and the general public on a variety of subjects including wetlands, natural history, and environmental landscaping. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (B.S. and M.S. degrees) and Mississippi State University (Ph.D.). Mark is the recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award, the Gulf Guardian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.


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