GPA recognized for tree preservation

Oct 31, 2013

Savannah, Ga. – October 30, 2013 –  For its efforts to preserve historic oaks, the Georgia Ports Authority has won the 2013 outstanding business award from the Georgia Urban Forest Council. 

“We are very pleased to present this award to the Georgia Ports Authority for its protection of historic live oaks at Garden City Terminal in Savannah,” said Mary Lynne Beckley, GUFC executive director.  “To voluntarily preserve and take care of these grand trees is outstanding and demonstrates how businesses can help sustain our urban forests.” 

The Georgia Urban Forest Council is a nonprofit organization with the mission of sustaining Georgia’s green legacy by helping communities grow healthy trees. The group presented the GPA with its 2013 Outstanding Business Grand Award at an Oct. 24 ceremony in Columbus, Ga.  This annual award recognizes individuals and organizations for protecting and enhancing our community forests.   

About a dozen trees that are more than 200 years old are located on GPA’s Garden City Terminal. Of those, the two oldest are estimated to be more than 360 years old. The oldest is 92 inches in diameter and is estimated to have taken root in 1645. The second oldest is 91 inches in diameter, and is estimated to have taken root in 1649. Four trees, one more than 250 years old, located at the new Container Operations Building were preserved during the building process and the building was even repositioned to provide optimal growing conditions for the trees. 

“The GPA has taken steps to protect these trees through a regular maintenance program and invasive species control. In addition, we have installed lightning protection on the tallest specimens,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “This initiative is one facet of GPA’s effort to grow our business in an environmentally responsible manner.” 

Karen Jenkins, executive director of the Savannah Tree Foundation, nominated the GPA for the award. “The importance of this act of conservation by the GPA cannot be overstated,” Jenkins said. “It serves at the national leadership level in demonstrating conservation and commerce cohabiting harmoniously. Preserving Savannah’s historic and culturally important live oaks is significant and award worthy because it is wholly voluntary.” 

Also on Oct. 24, the GPA was recognized at the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Business Expo and Awards. The authority’s peers in the local business community nominated the GPA for the Environmental Excellence Award “for its outstanding efforts to maintain environmental quality.” 

“One of our top priorities is responsible stewardship of the environment,” said GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson. “In addition to protecting the live oak canopy, we have also converted our container handling equipment to cleaner engine technology, created natural wetlands to treat stormwater runoff and reduced light pollution through more efficient container yard lighting.” 

About the Georgia Ports Authority 
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10.9 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2013. Check out GPA’s Youtube channel here. For more information, contact GPA’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Robert Morris at (912) 964-3855 orrmorris@gaports.com.  Visit the GPA web site at www.gaports.com

About Georgia Urban Forest Council 
The Georgia Urban Forest Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit that sustains Georgia’s green legacy by helping communities grow healthy trees. The Council was founded in 1988 by a group of visionary individuals who recognized the need for an organization to address urban forestry issues in Georgia. Today, the Council is an active group offering educational programs and resources and supported by a growing and diverse membership. 

About Savannah Tree Foundation 
Savannah Tree Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization in its 30th year of preserving, protecting and planting the urban forests of Chatham County.  The foundation employs direct action, advocacy and education to promote awareness of trees as a vital environmental resource and important part of our cultural heritage.  Go to www.savannahtree.com to learn more.

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