In a few years, residents along Chattsworth Road won’t see training ranges at Fort Benning under a tree planting program by the Land Management Branch.
On Friday, a crew planted one of 314 green giant Thujas along Chattsworth Road. It will join 10,000 Virginia pines workers have planted since December last year.
“This is a screening project,” said Brian Waldrep, a lead forester. “Fort Benning wants to be a good neighbor for the people along Chattsworth.”
Some homes are visible and just a stone’s throw from the military reservation where a series of small arms and heavy weapons ranges have been built as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Ranges are within five miles of many homes in the Midland, Upatoi and Box Springs areas.
Residents will still hear the training noise but the newly planted trees will provide natural screening of training areas from residents. No cost estimate was available on the screening project that covers six locations in the northeast section of the post.
Virginia pines also were planted in front of houses with a view of the range.
A fast growing tree, the Thujas can reach 20 to 30 feet, growing 3 to 5 feet per year over a 10-year period. The Virginia pines grow fast too and can reach 50 feet.
Virginia pines are considered by some during Christmas time. “It can be used as a Christmas tree,” Waldrep said. “It’s not the most common.”
The Thujas is commonly used for landscaping and visual screening. The tree also is not a threat from deer and other wildlife. “Deer don’t usually browse on them,” Waldrep said. “They are not as palatable to deer.”
In an area that has been plagued by drought, Waldrep said both trees were selected because they are insect and drought resistant. “They pretty much take care of themselves,” he said.