Volunteers plant 50 trees at Fort Yargo State Park

WINDER - Fort Yargo State Park is losing trees, thanks to deer, pine beetles and a rogue tornado spawned by Hurricane Katrina.

To celebrate Arbor Day, 65 volunteers donated a Saturday morning to plant 50 trees that replace those lost and give needed shade on hot summer days. Volunteers came from Ricoh Electronics in Lawrenceville, Rhodia Company in Winder, scout troops packs 235, 304 and 750, Winder-Barrow High School Future Farmers of America students, members of the Barrow County Rotary Club as well as several families and their children, said Rick Cline, spokesman for Friends of Fort Yargo, the organization that coordinated the event.

Volunteers planted mostly red oak and saw tooth oak trees that stand from six to 10 feet tall near the beach pavilion, picnic area No. 2 and in Will-a-way. The old fort is now adorned with crabapples.

"The trees we plant are native hardwoods," Cline said. "These hardwoods are less disease prone and all around a more hearty tree."

A tornado created by Hurricane Katrina took more than 2,000 trees in 2005, Cline said.

Friends of Fort Yargo raised $500 through fundraisers and a donation from the Rotary Club to buy the trees.

Fort Yargo wins award

Fort Yargo State Park won Best Year Round Programming on a State Park award at the 50th Annual Manager's Conference held at Unicoi State Park Jan. 29 to 31. The award recognizes the park's special events throughout the year, including Autumn Nights hayrides, Christmas at Yargo, Memorial Day campfire program, Arbor Day and many bicycle and running races.

"The Friends of Fort Yargo sponsor many of our events and played a key role in the winning of this award," said Eric Bentley, park manager.