GPA Recognized for Preservation

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

For its efforts to preserve historic oaks, the Georgia Ports Authority has won the 2013 outstanding business award from the Georgia Urban Forest Council. 

“We are very pleased to present this award to the Georgia Ports Authority for its protection of historic live oaks at Garden City Terminal in Savannah,” said Mary Lynne Beckley, GUFC executive director.  “To voluntarily preserve and take care of these grand trees is outstanding and demonstrates how businesses can help sustain our urban forests.” 

The Georgia Urban Forest Council is a nonprofit organization with the mission of sustaining Georgia’s green legacy by helping communities grow healthy trees. The group presented the GPA with its 2013 Outstanding Business Grand Award at an Oct. 24 ceremony in Columbus, Ga.  This annual award recognizes individuals and organizations for protecting and enhancing our community forests.   

About a dozen trees that are more than 200 years old are located on GPA’s Garden City Terminal. Of those, the two oldest are estimated to be more than 360 years old. The oldest is 92 inches in diameter and is estimated to have taken root in 1645. The second oldest is 91 inches in diameter, and is estimated to have taken root in 1649. Four trees, one more than 250 years old, located at the new Container Operations Building were preserved during the building process and the building was even repositioned to provide optimal growing conditions for the trees. 

“The GPA has taken steps to protect these trees through a regular maintenance program and invasive species control. In addition, we have installed lightning protection on the tallest specimens,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “This initiative is one facet of GPA’s effort to grow our business in an environmentally responsible manner.” 

Karen Jenkins, executive director of the Savannah Tree Foundation, nominated the GPA for the award. “The importance of this act of conservation by the GPA cannot be overstated,” Jenkins said. “It serves at the national leadership level in demonstrating conservation and commerce cohabiting harmoniously. Preserving Savannah’s historic and culturally important live oaks is significant and award worthy because it is wholly voluntary.” 

Also on Oct. 24, the GPA was recognized at the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Business Expo and Awards. The authority’s peers in the local business community nominated the GPA for the Environmental Excellence Award “for its outstanding efforts to maintain environmental quality.” 

“One of our top priorities is responsible stewardship of the environment,” said GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson. “In addition to protecting the live oak canopy, we have also converted our container handling equipment to cleaner engine technology, created natural wetlands to treat stormwater runoff and reduced light pollution through more efficient container yard lighting.”