By Alyssa Schnugg
The trees on the grounds of the Lafayette County Courthouse can often take a beating with the amount of foot traffic that occurs during different events throughout the year.
To make sure the trees remain healthy and safe, each year the county relies on the work of Fulgham Tree Preservation out of Tupelo to create a report on the health of the trees and its roots.
On Monday, ISA Certified Arborist / Urban Forester David Fulgham and his crew used ground-penetrating radar to map the roots of the trees around the Courthouse and scan the trunks for wood density analysis.
“The data from the ground-penetrating radar will be digitalized on the computer where we can then analyze the health of the trees and provide a report to the county,” Fulgham said Monday.
Fulgham was first hired by the county in 2007 before a major repair and renovation project began on the Courthouse.
“We had to help manage construction to keep it off the roots,” Fulgham said. “A year before the construction, we started treating the roots to get them vigorous enough to withstand the construction.”
Fulgham said the trees are holding up well.
“Considering the amount of traffic and what that can do to the root system, they’re doing pretty good,” he said.
Benefits of using the ground-penetrating radar for tree care include:
• Quantify trunk decay.
• Produces accurate images of the root structure, location & depth.
• Map and verify utility and hardscape conflicts with root systems. The roots can be detected & mapped under a wide variety of surfaces: turf, bare ground, concrete, asphalt, bricks, pavers and buildings.
• Used during planning and construction to identify the location of roots to avoid future tree decline or removal.
• To show a more accurate view of where tree protection zones should be established.
• To pinpoint where root loss has occurred in declining trees.
• Does not disturb soils or injure roots, which allows repeated measurements that reveal long-term root system development or decline.
Fulgham said he purchased the radar unit in March and has since used it on jobs in Alabama, Louisiana and across Mississippi.
“This technology has really increased the quality of our assessments and our ability to understand the trees we’re caring for,” he said.
The data allows Fulgham to troubleshoot trees that are in decline by giving a snapshot of what’s going on inside the tree and below the ground.
“It’s like an MRI or a sonogram,” he said. “It’s a noninvasive inspection of the tree and its root system.”
Lafayette County Building Official Joel Hollowell said the large trees can be a liability.
“We want to do our due diligence to make sure these trees are healthy and safe,” he said. “And if they identify a problem, we can take care of it before it becomes a major problem.”
For more information, visit Fulgham Tree Preservation at www.fulghamsinc.com.