When former periodontist Allen French retired and moved from the Atlanta area to Destin five years ago, he wanted to do something productive.
He had always loved trees and the area he moved from had a lot, but French thought his new home could use a bit more.
Two-and-a-half years ago French founded Trees Destin, which he has since renamed to Trees on the Coast to include Walton and Okaloosa counties in his tree-planting projects.
Trees on the Coast is dedicated to improving Okaloosa and Walton counties' beauty through planting, conservation, and education. Since inception, the non-profit organization has raised $100,000, which enabled them to buy and plant 200 trees over 10 projects in the two counties.
The first was a partnership with Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation for planting five large Mary Nell Holly shrubs to provide a backdrop for MKAF's new sculpture at the entrance to the center.
The planting continued with its "Plant a Tree to Honor a Loved One" project on Holiday Isle, where they planted 63 sabal palms to line Gulf Shore Drive.
In June 2015 the organization partnered with the city of Destin to plant a large Sylvester date palm and 16 sabal palms in the Main Street median from Airport Road to Main Street.
They have partnered with Food for Thought to plant two citrus trees at their Destin facility and another at their Santa Rosa Beach facility.
"Plant a Tree to Honor a Loved Dog" is another of its programs and they partnered with Destin Dog Park to beautify it and provide shade with three Live Oak trees.
Another partnership is with Habitat for Humanity of Okaloosa and Walton counties. They will donate and plant a tree at each new-home dedication and have already planted five Crepe Myrtles at five new homes in Walton.
In partnership with Henderson Beach Resort, Matthew Boulevard received an upgrade with the planting of live oaks, palms, grasses, and other landscape plantings.
"We have made a lot of progress in two years," said French.
And that progress includes education through partnership with schools.
More than 100 advanced science students at Destin Middle School participated in an educational program on tree planting then participated in the planting of an elm tree and an American holly.
A new project he is working on is to plant the median all the way from the Mid Bay Bridge to U.S. Highway 98.
"We just need a plan and a permit from DOT," he said. "We call that corridor the 'gateway' to the beaches and planting there will be a benefit to both counties."
His plan is to plant live oaks, sabal palms, and magnolias there.
Trees on the Coast is dependent on donations and corporate sponsors. For more information or to join the effort visit the website at treesdestin.com or email email@example.com.