In Photos: Racine Drive planting event part of Wilmington initiative to restore tree canopy

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In support of the initiative, Audi Cape Fear donated a tree for every car sold since November. On Jan. 29, 50 trees were planted along Racine Drive and one tree at Halyburton Park. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)

WILMINGTON – Volunteers planted 50 trees along Racine Drive on Friday, part of an initiative to restore the city’s tree canopy, which has fallen victim to hurricanes and development.

Audi Cape Fear donated the flowering and soon-to-be colorful trees in support of the City of Wilmington’s Tree Initiative. Since November, the company has committed to planting one tree for every car it sold.

Related: In Pictures 2020: The pandemic, protests, an election year and a hurricane [Free]


The new trees stretch from Old Eastwood Road to Oriole Drive. Volunteers planted 10 eastern redbuds, 10 serviceberries, 10 chokeberry trees, eight crepe myrtles and 12 trident maples.

The initiative aims to grow the urban forest in the city by planting 1,739 trees, a number representing the year Wilmington was incorporated.

Mayor Bill Saffo said he believes the city will far exceed its goal and hopefully double it. The city has already planted 1,600 trees since the start of 2020.

Wilmington has lost a significant number of trees in recent years to development and hurricanes. In 2018, Hurricane Florence’s historic 20-to-30 inch rainfall soaked the ground for days, causing shallow trees to topple. The city’s population is still growing rapidly and developers are plowing the way for new homes businesses. According to a United Van Lines study, Wilmington was the No. 1 U.S. city for inbound moves in 2020.

“We want to reproduce and bring back as many trees as we possibly can,” Saffo said.

The city is working on numerous partners for the initiative, including Wilmington Tree Commission, Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, Cape Fear Garden Club, Cape Fear Community College, Plastic Ocean Project, Keep New Hanover Beautiful, New Hanover County, North Carolina Cooperative Extension and UNC Wilmington. Local businesses Clancy Theys, Live Oak Bank, Intracoastal Realty, Plastic Ocean Project and Duke Energy are also sponsoring the project.

Below are some shots from the event.

Mayor Bill Saffo thanks Audi on behalf of the city: “Thank you,” Saffo said. “I’m driving a Range Rover, but the next one’s going to be an Audi.” (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
Volunteers planted 50 trees along Racine Drive Friday. One driver yelled “thank you” from their window as they passed. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
The goal of the Wilmington Tree Initiative is to plant 1,739 trees by fall 2021. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
trees on racine drive (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
Wilmington’s mayor said he believes the city will exceed its goal of 1,739 trees and hopefully double it. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
trees on racine drive (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
Southeastern North Carolina lost trees both during and post-Hurricane Florence from the heavy rainfall. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
AJ Aliah, owner of Audi Cape Fear, addresses a crowd of volunteers before a morning of tree planting commences. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
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A large number of trees being planted as part of the initiative are going in the rights of way to help build the urban forest. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
trees on racine drive (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
The initiative also focuses on spreading awareness of the value of trees. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)
Wilmington has lost countless trees to hurricanes and development. (Port City Daily photo/Alexandria Sands)

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