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The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the Town of Southern Pines for the 44th consecutive year as Tree City USA and the fifth consecutive year with its prestigious Growth Award for increased levels of tree care and community engagement.

Southern Pines also earned the moniker Bee City USA from the Xerces Society. The Bee City USA designation recognizes community efforts to increase the abundance of native plants and nesting sites, as well as reducing insecticide use.

“Providing and maintaining a natural habitat offers many environmental benefits, especially for the native bee populations and the beekeepers in our area,” says Jeff Grey, the Town’s Arborist. “We work hard to protect and maintain our urban tree canopies along the town rights-of-way and places like Downtown Park.”

According to Grey, the Town worked with North Carolina Forest Service to conduct the Town’s first prescribed burn a few weeks ago. “It had been several years since a prescribed burn was done on the property,” he said. “Because of that, a lot of undergrowth had taken over the ground beneath the pines and a thick accumulation of leaves, old pine needles, and sticks and cones.”

Grey went on to say that the Longleaf Pine used to rely on “Mother Nature” to provide lightning strikes to start the much-needed fires every few years, which controlled most of the undergrowth and litter. Now, we try to help by doing these prescribed burns every 2-10 years. This is done to help bring the Longleaf back from near extinction, allowing other generations to enjoy the awesome Longleaf Pine.”

Southern Pines is looking to restore the LongLeaf forest and a native grass savannah at Whitehall.

The Town recently installed a pollinator garden in Reservoir Park using native plant species to support bees and butterflies. Later this month, the Appearance Commission will fill planters and hanging baskets along both sides of Broad Street with additional bee-friendly plants to add to the landscaping around the historic downtown.

“The Bee City USA program recognizes, supports, and encourages pollinator conservation amongst municipalities,” says Kate Shinkwin, Chairperson of the Town’s Appearance Commission. “So it felt like the perfect program for the Town of Southern Pines to align with.”

Shinkwin went on to say that the Town has already been working to install a Bee City USA project at Reservoir Park, with over 10,000 native wildflower seeds planted near the dam. An additional pollinator garden is already in place at the Southern Pines Public Library.

To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA program, visit https://www.arborday.org/programs/treecityusa/

To learn more about the Xerces Society Bee City USA program, visit https://beecityusa.org/


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