Chapin residents come together for environmental project designed to boost tourism

A cluster of sequoias stands tall in Sequoia National Park. (photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

A cluster of sequoias stands tall in Sequoia National Park. (photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

Several Chapin residents have joined forces to launch a project that can be enjoyed by people from the area and those just visiting for generations to come.

The Chapin High School Academic Leadership Academy is spearheading the Chapin Sequoias Standing Tall initiative, a push to get the large trees planted in well-known parts of the town. The project has a multipart goal of creating unity for the good of the community, making Chapin a destination spot with a unique feature, reducing air pollution and adding beauty.

Chapin High student Adam Abdulrahman is serving as the spokesperson for the student group, with Lisa Maylath and Karen Walton as faculty sponsors. Residents Lill Mood and James Bryan, owner of Botanica nursery, are two members of the community group who have banded with the students to gather support and offer resources.

“This is a way to have faith in the future,” Bryan said.

“The trees are something that will bring us together,” Abdulrahman agreed.

The seed for the project was first planted in January, and the plan for the Academic Leadership Academy to be involved and launch the campaign came together in May.

Mood said an article on the benefits of sequoias led her to research if the trees could thrive in South Carolina. She then connected with Bryan, who has a many sequoias of his own and has studied them for years.

“Together with a small group of Chapin citizens, we began to explore the possibility of planting sequoias,” she said.

The Standing Tall committee has the gotten the green light from a few organizations already. The priority spots for tree planting are at Town Hall, Chapin High School, Crooked Creek Park and Chapin technology park.

Town Council received the request from Mood and Abdulrahman positively at the August council meeting and asked the group to bring back a specific site plan for approval. Mood said Chapin High Principal Akil Ross has granted permission on behalf of the school district and the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission is working with the group to find the best place for a planting at Crooked Creek Park. Lexington County Councilman Johnny Jeffcoat also assisting to include a sequoia in the landscaping plans for the technology park.

Lill Mood talks to biology students at Chapin High about the Standing Tall project. (photo provided)

Lill Mood talks to biology students at Chapin High about the Standing Tall project. (photo provided)

The benefits touted by the Standing Tall committee are economic as well as environmental.

Since sequoias can absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, the volunteers think air quality will improve as the trees mature. Additionally, the trees are not known to create debris or insect infestation.

“An article in the January 2014 Readers Digest said that 2014 will be better than 2013 because people are planting sequoia trees,” Mood said.

The trees are included in the history of the region from decades ago. Mood said sequoias are listed in a catalog from a nursery in Pomaria in the 1880s.

By making sequoias a featured part of the town’s future, Standing Tall volunteers anticipate Chapin becoming a must-see place. Bryan said he also wants to create a comprehensive map of the locations of sequoias in the region.

“Sequoias are magnificently beautiful, and their presence in Chapin could make us a destination,” Mood said. “Their uniqueness gives this project an appeal across our community,

The 115-foot sequoia planted in the Robertson-Hutchinson Garden in Abbeville was a highlight of the 2014 French Heritage Festival in April.

“These trees will bring people to Chapin,” Abdulrahman said.

In addition to the priority locations, other school campuses, churches and individual homes are also candidates. Standing Tall committee members aim to do the majority of plantings before Arbor Day on Dec. 5 and plan to hold a larger celebration on the holiday.

One shipment of trees is available and other has been ordered because of the positive response so far from the community. Thirty students have organized themselves into work teams to prepare for the plantings.

When sequoias are planted close enough, Mood noted the shallow, wide-spreading root systems must intertwine to support the height of the trees. However, “despite its immense need for moisture and nutrients, the giant sequoia does not use up or over exploit the resources available to it. On the contrary, it tends to establish a very stable, long-term relationship with the soil around it” according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Isn’t this a great kind of tree to have in your community?” Mood said.

Bryan is planning to contribute, and the cost of the Standing Tall project is expected to be $20 per tree.

More information on donating or submitting a site for a tree planting is available by contacting Abdulrahman at adamabdulrahman356@gmail.com or Mood at lhmood@bellsouth.net.

Categories: Lexington County

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