CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Council will be recognizing the work of the Adopt-A-Tree Highway program in the South Strand Tuesday.
"I just think that they've done such an incredible job," Councilman Gary Loftus said. "They've received no support from the county, I can assure you that."
For an area that relies on reeling in visitors, Loftus says you cannot underestimate the important of aesthetics.
"You drive into any tourist destination and you'll see that the entryways are what's important," Loftus emphasized.
The program began in December 2002 with the signing of a proclamation by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) for the ability to beautify the US-17 Bypass from Holmestown Road south to Murrells Inlet at the county line.
The effort was initiated by Lou Krieger during his days as a popular radio DJ in the Grand Strand when he voiced his frustration over the airwaves about the overgrown medians.
"It used to irk me all of the time that Pawleys Island and Litchfield could have nice median plantings the way they do and we could have nothing up here," Krieger said. "So we just decided we were going to make a difference."
Since then he says it has turned into a labor of love as he continues to work long hours with one-time loyal listeners turned close friends Buddy Sessions and Patrick Burke.
"Sometimes I dream about that Bypass [and] all I see is mulch," Burke said with a laugh.
Since the program began, the volunteer group has planted more than two miles of trees and shrubbery making it the largest public/community volunteer beautification project in the entire state of South Carolina. In the last seven and a half years they have spread 300 tons of mulch and planted close to 2,000 bulbs with the help of supporters like the Lakes Property Owners Association.
Krieger says the effort does not come free, however. He says they will be holding their annual golf tournament Aug. 14 at the Wachesaw Plantation East to help raise the $3,000 to $4,000 needed annually to fund the program. Money raised will go to purchase trees, plants and supplies for all maintenance. He says the program is solely funded and supported by local donations and all-volunteer labor.
Interested participants are asked to contact Krieger at 843-215-3753 or LouK1065@gmail.com.