Forester leads bike tour of Shreveport’s significant trees

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Dozier, Hallie

News Release Distributed 10/26/10

SHREVEPORT, La. – Live oaks, magnolias, baldcypress and hackberries were among the types of trees riders learned about in Vélo Dendro S Deux, a leisurely bicycle tour held Oct. 23 in South Highlands and Broadmoor.

Led by Hallie Dozier, a Shreveport native and urban forester with the LSU AgCenter, the ride covered approximately 15 miles with frequent stops, including the first to plant a live oak in Betty Virginia Park with assistance of Shreveport Green for "Make a Difference Day.”

Members of the Z clubs at Captain Shreve, Northwood and Huntington high schools helped plant the tree in the park.

All of the tree species planted in the park are native to north Louisiana, Dozier said. She told the 75 riders that when you plant a tree in your own landscape, “you need to pamper it like a baby.”

As Dozier pointed out the baldcypress trees at the park, she said baldcypress is the state tree of Louisiana. They are conifers, dropping leaves once a year, she said. They get big quickly and can be planted in tight spots.

“If planted in a wet spot, it gets knees,” Dozier said. “Scientists have been trying to figure out why cypresses have knees. Nobody really knows.”

The group also stopped by a live oak on Slattery Boulevard that was planted in the 1920s. The tree has been cabled extensively because the owners thought the branches were too low, Dozier said. “This tree is culturally so important to this side of town.”

If you have room in your yard, Dozier said, a live oak is one of the best trees you can plant.

Matthew Linn, Caddo Parish commissioner and owner of Columbia Café, gave a history of Bayou Pierre. “This was a means of getting goods in and out of Shreveport during the log jam,” he said. “Building materials for this neighborhood came up this way from the Mississippi River.”

A magnolia on Ockley Drive introduced the topic of mulch. “Mulch is the single best thing you can do for a tree,” Dozier said. It should consist of a thin, wide layer no more than 2-4 inches deep. “The best way to mulch a tree is not high.”

The owner of the home with the magnolia said prior residents left a receipt for the tree that shows it was planted in 1931. “Rumor has it a traveling salesman sold trees up and down the street,” said Jennifer Akers.

Riders were next treated to a visit to the Louisiana State Champion sycamore tree at A.C. Steere Elementary School. American Forests’ National Register has identified it as the largest sycamore in the state.

Dozier pointed out hackberry trees planted in the parking areas between the sidewalk and curb on Johnette Street as the riders continued downtown to the Barnwell Garden and Art Center and storm-damaged trees at the Caddo Parish Courthouse.

“When you get a neighborhood with trees, houses sell,” Dozier said. “People are attracted to good landscaping.”

Benefits of trees include beauty, shade and helping the environment, Dozier said.

Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets partnered with the LSU AgCenter, Columbia Café, A Better Shreveport and Shreveport Green to bring the event to Shreveport for the second year.

Mary Ann Van Osdell
1/4/2011 1:13:16 AM
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