“Mr. Callaway always valued those trees and said no matter what we do, don’t allow those trees to be damaged,” said Callaway Foundation President Speer Burdette. “So that’s what we’ve done.”
About 2,000 acres surrounding the poplars are being developed as Callaway South Industrial Park, but the 60-acre, poplar-rich area will be preserved.
“We’ve surveyed out what we refer to as the virgin poplar grove as an area that’s not under an option agreement with the Industrial Development Authority,” Burdette said. “We intend to keep it as green space and perhaps at some point add walking trails to allow for public enjoyment.”
Callaway had figured there would someday be substantial development in that area, and “he said, ‘When that happens, be sure to guard this poplar grove,’ ” according to Burdette. “We want to be sure these trees can live their entire life span and not be cut short by development.”
There’s also a large grove of tulip poplars at Hills and Dales, the Callaway home place off Vernon Street.
“The love he had for tulip poplars here may have inspired Mr. Callaway to preserve the other poplars as well,” said Carleton Wood, executive director of Hills and Dales. “I think he simply valued majestic trees.”
Troup County’s new Heritage Tree program enables residents in the unincorporated area to protect trees important to them. They nominate trees or groves of trees and the nomination is reviewed by a county arborist, who may designated them as heritage trees if their health, aerial space and root system are deemed sufficient. The trees are then placed on the Heritage Tree Register, making it unlawful for anyone to remove, cut, prune or injure them without a permit from the county arborist.
“The county’s plan is a wonderful idea and it’s gotten a lot of attention by various property owners who have trees that are significant or sentimental to them or have value for other reasons,” Burdette said. “It’s not always possible to protect trees from development, but I think it’s a great idea the county has come up with.”
Trees throughout Troup County have received heritage status, including a grove of century-old oaks at Oak Grove Congregational Church and an uncommon Osage orange tree at Liberty Hill.
“This program gives citizens an opportunity to protect trees important to them,” said county planner Nancy Seegar, who administers the program.
— To nominate a tree for the Heritage Tree Register, contact Seegar at the county Government Center or email her at nseegar@ troupco.org.