Friday, September 22, 2023 Blog · News

TAKE ACTION: Protect Georgetown County’s Trees!

by Leslie Bogstad

It’s no secret we love our trees here in South Carolina and it’s easy to see why — we have some beautiful and remarkable trees in our state.

It’s time for us to speak up for these trees in Georgetown.

This Tuesday, September 12, Georgetown County Council will once again consider amendments to the existing tree ordinance. Join us in encouraging Council to approve the amendments to increase fees for the unlawful removal of protected trees, hold building permits when the ordinance is violated, and to add longleaf pines to the list of protected trees on the Waccamaw Neck. These steps will go a long way towards protecting our trees and the services they provide the community.

Georgetown County Council
Tuesday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m.
Historic Council Chambers (129 Screven Street, Georgetown)

Before the regular meeting, County Council will hold a workshop at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the tree ordinance and may suggest additional changes. We encourage you to attend the workshop and sign up to speak during public input at the beginning of the council meeting.

Our trees need us.

Just in the last two years, we have seen at least four Grand live oaks on the Waccamaw Neck cut without permits in preparation for the sale of a property or new building.

Currently, the fee for violating the ordinance is just $500, even for what was a 42-inch live oak. The proposed amendment would raise the fee for a tree cut down without a permit on an unoccupied lot to $500 per inch and building permits on that parcel would be held for two years. We also appreciate the addition of longleaf pine to the list of protected trees on the Waccamaw Neck, which is crucial habitat for threatened and endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Trees help reduce flooding, create habitat and food for our wildlife, and provide shade, which lowers energy usage and benefits the health and safety of residents. Trees are both an environmental and economic resource, contributing to Georgetown County’s sense of place.

A strong tree ordinance will help buffer incompatible land use, improve pedestrian and driver safety, and lead to high property values when incorporated into development proposals. Tree protections and fees, including updates through amendments, are necessary to ensure there will be healthy, mature trees on the landscape for future generations to enjoy.

Write your council member today and sign up to speak through public input at County Council on September 12th!  

What can you say?

“I urge you to support the proposed amendments to strengthen our tree ordinance and protect the natural beauty of Georgetown County. We have seen several instances of protected trees, especially live oaks, being cut down without a permit because the current fee is only $500. This has proved insufficient and I believe the proposed fee of $500 per inch as well as two-year hold on building permits will be a much stronger deterrent for violations of the tree ordinance.

Please also support the addition of longleaf pine to the list of protected trees in the urban overlay. Historically, longleaf pine ecosystems were prevalent across the Southeast and are crucial to the survival of many threatened and endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker found in Georgetown County.”

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” – The Lorax

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