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GCA Restoration Initiatives Provide Disaster Relief in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, and Texas


March 20, 2024

Little Rock Garden Club, Shreveport Garden Study Club, St. George’s Garden Club, Magnolia Garden Club awarded funds for reforestation, restoration, replanting, clean-up efforts

On March 31, 2023, an EF3 tornado hit Little Rock, Arkansas with wind speeds between 136-165 mph. A total of 2,648 structures were damaged or destroyed. Murray Park was hard hit with many trees destroyed by the storm. The GCA grant of $10,000 plus an additional $1,500 partial matching funds from the Little Rock Garden Club will enable the club to purchase, install, mulch, and maintain with water approximately 20-30 caliper trees, emphasizing the importance of planting trees to aid in reforestation, conservation, and to combat climate change.

On August 7, 2023, a strong downburst storm with winds of up to 70 miles per hour swept through the greater Baltimore area causing extensive damage. Irvine’s Woodland Garden was a major casualty. A 180-year-old 70-foot hickory tree uprooted, striking a large tulip poplar, smaller hickories, maples, and two large specimen flowering dogwoods. Understory trees and large shrubs, including redbuds, elderberries, native azaleas, rhododendrons, and numerous spicebushes were also damaged. The St. George’s Garden Club will use the GCA’s $10,000 grant to restore small trees, shrubs, perennials, spring ephemerals, and ground cover plants. It will also help with deer fence repair and educational sign replacement.

On June 16, 2023, a catastrophic storm with winds from 80 to 100 mph raged across North Louisiana destroying approximately 1,000 trees in Shreveport and throughout Caddo Parish. Shortleaf pine trees took the brunt of the storm with hundreds falling in community parks alone. Many of these trees had reached 75 to 100 feet in height and over 10 tons in weight. Some 27 trees were destroyed in Ford Park. The Shreveport Garden Study Club will use its $10,000 GCA grant to remove nine large pine tree root balls, stumps, wood chips, and debris. They will plant at least nine 15-gallon native replacement trees suitable to the site.

In the winter of 2022, the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, a cherished center of botanical and social life for the city, endured an unusual days-long deep freeze which killed many plants. This was followed by a record-breaking drought and heat wave in the summer of 2023. Then feral hogs ravaged the gardens. The Magnolia Garden Club  will use the GCA’s $10,000 grant to restore plants as well as plant new trees and plants through the 23 acres of gardens and natural woodlands at the Beaumont Botanical Garden. In addition to restoring some of the original plants, the Magnolia Garden Club will install more native and hardy plants, including native Texas azaleas, Oak Leaf holly plants, Yaupon holly plants and native Texas irises. 

The GCA established the Restoration Initiative in 2017 in response to the urgent needs caused by weather related natural disasters such as catastrophic storms, hurricanes, floods, fires, and mudslides, to assist member clubs involved in public landscape restoration and conservation projects. Grants are awarded annually to approved applicants. Applications are due by February 1 for events that happened within 24 months of the filing date.




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