As part of Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s Love the Boot Week, we’re highlighting a local non-profit dedicated to maintaining the urban greenery in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge Green has served the Capital City for 30 years by fostering educational outreach for the benefit of trees in the urban environment. Baton Rouge Green plans volunteer events, physical assistance and direct management of the trees along the interstate and in our community.
We spoke with Christopher Cooper, the program manager at Baton Rouge Green, to learn more about the organization’s efforts to support the Baton Rouge community and protect native plants and trees.
VISIT BATON ROUGE: Can you tell us how Baton Rouge Green was founded?
CHRISTOPHER COOPER: We started off as a group of concerned citizens that saw a lot of development happening with people cutting down trees and not replacing them or cutting down trees that could have been saved. So seeing the benefit of trees and their necessity in the urban environment helped in the formation of Baton Rouge Green.
VBR: How does your organization help maintain local plant life?
CC: One of our first major programs, Living Roadways, is still very much alive today, and it’s seen as our bread and butter right now. We manage over 4,000 trees along the interstate system, both in East and West Baton Rouge parishes. We continually plant and maintain those trees through private dollars, so you can see signs along the interstate with the name of a family or business that sponsors the program. This helps sustain Baton Rouge Green, and it goes into our war chest of tree protection and advancement.
VBR: What do you want local citizens to know about Baton Rouge Green?
CC: I mean, arguably there are not a lot of people who have ever heard the term “urban forestry” before. People tend to think of trees as something pretty or a shady spot to hang out, but buying and planting trees help cool the urban environment. By planting more trees in the Baton Rouge area, we are helping to cool the city. If we were to remove all the trees in Baton Rouge, we’re looking at the temperature rising up to 20 degrees. If we are able to increase the number of trees in our communities, we’re not only helping cool the environment, but we’re also helping reduce stormwater, purify the air and get more oxygen into the city.
VBR: How can visitors get involved in BRG’s work or with local plant life while they are here?
CC: We have various citrus sites, and I think it is one of the more progressive happenings that we have in Baton Rouge. One is Howell Community Park, which was formerly a golf course. They arguably have the best and highest functioning community garden here in town. You can go there and actually pick the fruit right off the bush. As you continue to walk through the fairways, you can see the new pollinator garden by BREC, and then eventually you can see our new food forest. We have 30 citrus trees there, and the oldest ones are now three years old. If you’re here in the fall, I think this would be a very wonderful spot to visit.
We would like to thank Baton Rouge Green for all they do to protect the trees and plants all over the Capital City. To learn more about their efforts and how to get involved, you can visit their website here!