By Pam Nicholls, GSAC Board Member
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Naples is graced with a beautiful and diverse population of trees. More than 20,773 carbon gobblers of 148 different species enhance our parks, public spaces and neighborhood streets.

However, Naples lost nearly 2,000 trees to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when there were already 2,000 sites identified where trees would benefit the landscape.

With increased funding and support from City Council, Community Services has worked to replace many canopy and palm trees, but there are not sufficient funds to replace all that was lost.

Enter, stage right, The Blair Foundation Tree Challenge! The Blair Foundation, created in memory of long-time Naples residents and philanthropists, John and Dorothy Blair, has been helping reforest Naples by matching dollar for dollar (up to a maximum of $500,000) every donation made by the public to plant trees around the city.

To date, the Tree Challenge has raised $327,000 and trees have been planted throughout the city’s environs. Time is running out, though. The three-year Challenge comes to an end on December 31, 2021. In order to meet the $500,000 mark, which equates to $1m worth of trees, Naples’ Community Services Advisory Board is urging neighborhood associations, businesses, individuals and condo associations to make tax-deductible donations before the deadline.

Gifts of any amount are welcome but if you would like to donate a tree and specify its location (i.e. Park Shore or Moorings) the full cost of the tree (between $800 and $5,000) is required. Contact Heather Shields at the Naples Community Services Department on 239-213-7120 or visit the City of Naples’ website for more information. Checks can be sent to Community Services Department Tree Challenge, 280 Riverside Circle, Naples FL 34102.