St. Simons Island restaurant Gnat’s Landing is using its after party to commemorate Hurricane Irma blasting through the Golden Isles last month to raise money for tree planting efforts.
Gnat’s approached the Golden Isles Fund for Trees after discussing using proceeds from the party to replant trees, said Nan Marie O’Hara, a GIFT board member said.
“They decided to have an after-Irma party, and then they decided to make it a benefit party and put the money toward the trees lost,” said Joy Elliot, a GIFT member.
The party is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at the restaurant, located in Redfern Village on St. Simons Island.
Along with the benefit party, Gnat’s will donate a portion of its income for the next week to GIFT.
GIFT doesn’t know yet how many trees will need to be planted to make up for the ones that were lost.
“We have absolutely no idea at this point, and I don’t think we will ever know. Not only did the hurricane take out trees, but in response to it many homeowners decided to cut down trees that were not affected by the hurricane,” Elliot said.
The organization will plant as many as they can afford to buy. A tree of the variety they plant usually costs around $250, not including the labor to plant it and maintain it until it takes root, said O’Hara.
“Every penny will go to buying trees and planting trees,” O’Hara said.
GIFT hasn’t decided what types of trees it will buy yet, but does plan to make it a wide variety.
“Obviously we like to plant live oaks, but we are going to need to diversify. We lost a lot of cedars, they split because they’re old,” O’Hara said.
One of the main reasons for replanting trees is the canopy they provide, O’Hara said, but the group is also concerned about stormwater drainage. Trees aid in stormwater management by absorbing water, she said.
“Our concern about that is people don’t know how much stormwater trees absorb. We want to preserve the canopy, but the benefit to stormwater drainage is important, too,” Elliot said.
Elliot added they hope to be planting trees by the end of this year or the beginning of the next.
GIFT has a website, treesglynn.org, where those who can’t make it to the party can contribute.