By Katie Fallon
While trees have always been a hot button issue in Sandy Springs, they recently received a new organized advocate, Trees Sandy Springs.
Spearheaded by its president Nina Cramer, Trees Sandy Springs is an organization that was patterned after Trees Atlanta to help preserve and grow the urban tree environment in the community.
Cramer said she decided to form Trees Sandy Springs after becoming a member and loyal volunteer with Trees Atlanta. Her devotion to trees, however, started at a younger age.
“I have always had a passion for trees.” Cramer said. “I am a native Atlantan and have been lucky to have always lived among big trees. I cannot imagine living without forests around me.”
Cramer said her exposure to the benefits of trees started in her childhood with her immediate and extended family. “My parents and grandparents taught me to love and care for nature,” Cramer said. “Trees are at the center of all nature. Humans cannot survive without trees.”
Cramer, a Sandy Springs resident, said she has learned a lot through her involvement with Trees Atlanta, where she is still a member and volunteer. As a member, she said she would go into Atlanta every weekend, water and mulch trees and then drive home to Sandy Springs. That is where the impetus to form Trees Sandy Springs began.
“One day two months ago, I was driving around Sandy Springs doing errands and I stopped the car and realized OUR trees were dying from neglect and the drought,” Cramer said. “I started to carry gallons of water in my car and just adopted a few trees in my community that were dying from the drought. I called some neighbors, asked them to catch water for me and asked if they could help me”
The decision to duplicate Trees Atlanta came after Cramer received an overwhelming response from her neighbors. She said everyone was happy to help. Furthermore, she already had a successful model for a tree advocacy group.
“I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Cramer said. “I just needed to make Trees Atlanta into Trees Sandy Springs and I have.”
But Cramer realizes the organization she formed will have a ways to go before it can become as successful as Trees Atlanta, which she describes as a “five-star nonprofit” that is as good as it gets.
“They have been planting and maintaining trees for 20 years,” Cramer said. “A successful nonprofit must meet two criteria…the degree of their volunteers and meeting their stated goals. Trees Atlanta has 7,500 active volunteers and has planted thousands of trees inside I-285.”
Because Trees Atlanta does not plant outside the I-285 perimeter, Cramer said she adapted what she learned with that organization and brought that knowledge outside the perimeter.
District 6 Sandy Springs Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny is also a major advocate for trees in Sandy Springs. An original proponent of the city’s tree ordinance, McEnerny said Trees Sandy Springs will play a vital role in the community.
“Trees Sandy Springs will touch every part of our community by taking special care of, with the help of volunteers committed to tree preservation, newly planted but not yet established trees,” McEnerny said. “In addition, her (Cramer’s) group will be raising funds to purchase and plant new trees in suitable areas of Sandy Springs, utilizing the best management practices adopted from Trees Atlanta.”
McEnerny said Trees Sandy Springs has already been working on public sites throughout the city by mulching existing trees in extreme need due to the prolonged drought the metro Atlanta area has been experiencing.
Specifically, McEnerny said Cramer and a group of volunteers mulched 99 trees at Heritage Sandy Springs, much to the delight of the organization’s board of directors. She said volunteers have also spent time working to protect the health of local trees at the Sandy Springs Tennis Center and an area elementary school.
McEnerny praised what the group has already accomplished as well as what they will be able to accomplish in the future through their commitment to preserve trees all over the city.
“Under Ms. Cramer’s leadership, Trees Sandy Springs and its volunteers will raise the consciousness level of the importance of tree canopy to our citizens,” McEnerny said. “Children and adults alike will have the opportunity, under supervised volunteer events, to contribute to their community by participating in the care and planting of the trees. The entire community benefits from her leadership in this critical area.”
For more information about Trees Sandy Springs, visit www.treessandysprings.org.