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Arbor Day event grows on county
Honorees include David, Hardigree
4 Arbor Day pic 2
Donna Hardigree receives the 2008 Champion Tree award at last week’s Arbor Day festivities. - photo by Photo/Elizabeth Hamilton

Friday was a day for celebrating nature’s beauty as several residents and members of Dawson County’s Tree Preservation Committee observed Arbor Day at Rock Creek Park.


The sixth annual celebration recognizes the importance of trees and those who work to preserve and plant them.


“Each year, the committee tries to recognize a residential and a commercial development that has happened in the past year and has gone to great lengths to preserve green space,” said Dave Hinderliter, committee chairman.


“What we look for is what it sounds like, when the work is done, there’s trees still standing that were there to start with,” he added.


Residential developer George David was named this year’s Tree Preservationist of the Year for his efforts to save trees in Fern Park, one of his residential developments.


A grateful David said he “really appreciates” the award, adding that he believes in “keeping as many trees as we can.”


Hinderliter said that David was chosen to receive the award for the “many years that he has made, and continues to make, Dawson County a great place to live.”


A river birch, donated by the Kinsey Family Farm, was planted in David’s honor.


“I am glad that we do this,” said Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County commission. “Dawson County is still a fairly rural county, and many people move here for that purpose and want it to stay as rural as it can.”


Berg added that Arbor Day helps people appreciate the significance of trees.


“It takes many years for a tree to grow, and only takes about 10 minutes to cut it down,” he said.


Also part of the local Arbor Day celebration, the Tree Preservation Committee and the Georgia Forestry Commission recognized Donna Hardigree with the 2008 Dawson Champion Tree Award.


“My mother and father planted this tree over 50 years ago,” Hardigree said of the water oak that stands on her land. “I nominated this tree in her honor. I know she would be very proud.”


Hardigree’s parents were the late R.C. and Lula Helton.


This year marked the second year of the Dawson Champion Tree Program.


Nominations were accepted from Sept. 1 to Nov. 14. All trees were measured and scored by the Georgia Forestry Commission.


The best time to plant trees in Georgia is between the months of November and mid-March, according to Hinderliter.


Planting during this time allows trees a chance to become established before the hot, dry period of summer. The statewide Arbor Day theme for 2009 is “Plant Your Legacy.”


Those who attended Friday’s event received free redbud and bald cypress tree seedlings, courtesy of the forestry commission.


E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at