Saturday, February 4, 2023

Oxford Heritage Trees Near Official Designation

Photo by: Kevin Bain/University of Mississippi Communications
The Grove at the University of Mississippi provides an urban canopy among the school’s buildings. Photo by: Kevin Bain/University of Mississippi Communications

Oxford is one step closer to protecting the heritage trees that contribute to its urban forest, after a second reading by the Board of Aldermen last night on the amendment to the landscape ordinance.
The changes would require that property owners count heritage trees on properties in the designated downtown area. The list of trees can be found online.
The tree list includes some obvious choices, such as Southern Magnolias and Oaks that are 20 inches or larger, and other choices that may be less cherished by developers, including 12 inch American Holly and Sweet Gum trees that are 18 inches or larger. In total, 25 trees made the list, along with any hardwood or evergreen that’s 36 inches or larger.
The drive to protect the city’s native, mature trees comes amidst rapid development of large student housing complexes in the city. The final vote on the landscape ordinance will be March 18.
Hume Bryant, co-chairman of the Tree Board, said the listed tree sizes are half the size of each tree at maturity, in diameter.
The tree-lined walkway at William Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak.
The tree-lined walkway at William Faulkner’s home,      Rowan Oak.

The city of Oxford is part of Tree City USA, an Arbor Day Foundation program that recognizes communities with a special status. These communities must maintain a tree board or department, have a tree ordinance, celebrate Arbor Day and spend $2 per capita or more on urban forestry. More than 3,400 communities are a Tree City USA.
Property owners can still choose to raze trees on their land, but the mitigation requirements will be larger for heritage trees. Under the amendment, removed trees must be replaced inch for inch by developers and home owners with houses valued at $250,000 or more.
– Gretchen Stone is associate editor. You can contact Gretchen about this story at