Wilmington, NC – Under the Heritage Tree Program, the Wilmington Tree Commission will have the power to confer landmark status on the city's historic and noteworthy trees. Nominated trees will have to meet criteria for size, age, rarity, or historic value.
The program requires property-owner consent and has no power to prevent the removal of designated trees. However, Wilmington Environmental Planner Philip Preet, an ex officio member of the Tree Commission, says he hopes the program someday takes on a more binding role.
That point is still far off. At the moment, according to Preet, the first step is making property owners aware of the Heritage Tree program.
"There's going to be plenty I'm sure that individual landowners will say, 'hey, I've got the biggest magnolia,' or 'I've got the biggest oak.' And that's what we're hoping, that it's going to get some attention from private property owners."
Rick Harris, head of Wilmington's Tree Commission, said the proposed program is based on similar ones run by tree commissions around the country. Harris described some of the city's oldest trees as "time capsules" - like the so-called 'Boundary Oak' at Tileston School.
"That was a tree that was a boundary of the city at the time of the revolutionary war, and I believe British troops actually camped underneath that tree."
Other notable trees Preet mentioned include the Airlie Oak and Wilmington's living Christmas tree.