Boomer Cherry Trees Enter Retirement

Every tree-loving Atlantan knows about the Cherry Blossom Festival. Many have even attended the annual spring event in Macon, GA. The event celebrates the seasonal flowering of Yoshino cherry trees, and has been around for 24 years attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors during its 10-day stretch.

The Yoshino cherries, though, are in trouble. Macon residents, and the Macon City forester Mike Huffman, are well aware that this species of cherry is not a long-lived tree in middle Georgia. In fact, most of the 350,000 Yoshinos (yes, that many!) throughout Macon were all planted about about 35 years ago. This means that many of the trees are in varying stages of environmentally enduced decline, succumbing to the hot, dry summers of the region.

The Cherry Blossom Festival board has asked the city to begin monitoring the cherry tree population - possibly using GPS tracking for monitoring, routine inspections, and citizen education for the care of privately owned trees. The Festival board will also continue to plant more Yoshinos to help replace the aging population, and distribute free seedlings annualy.

The city and the festival board hope to become more proactive about cherry tree management, rather than reactive.

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