State Environmental Council to offer 100K free native tree seedlings

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 24, 2017 at 8:15 AM

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Environmental Council is in the midst of orchestrating the largest volunteer community tree-planting event in Tennessee history. 

On Friday, more than 20,000 volunteer tree-planters from all 95 counties statewide will pick up up their free native seedlings, including oak, tulip poplar, red bud, American plum and Virginia pine, and prepare to plant them Saturday. Volunteer planters claimed all 100,000 seedlings, so there are no more trees available for the event this year.

There are 28 public planting events planned across Tennessee. All trees were offered at no cost to Tennessee residents and organizations that registered. 

“We are doing this because we care about Tennessee’s beautiful environment, and planting trees is a meaningful, fun and effective way to improve our communities,” said John McFadden, chief executive officer of Tennessee Environmental Council. “Trees provide many, many benefits to our communities, our economy and the environment, including increasing home values, cutting cooling costs and even increasing expenditures in retail locations. Communities that have more trees have less crime, graffiti and less litter. And trees soak up the stormwater, a leading cause of water pollution in Tennessee.”

The effort is made possible with assistance from several state agency partners. The Division of Forestry nursery grows the trees and delivers them to the eight TDEC field offices across Tennessee. Many Tennessee State Parks will serve as public distribution points, and TWRA wildlife biologists and agency personnel will provide knowledge to landowners about how to restore and improve Tennessee’s tree canopy. Finally, all three agencies continue to support the project financially, making it possible for all Tennesseans to receive trees at no cost to plant at their homes, businesses and farms.

The city of Lebanon will give away 2,000 tree saplings Friday from 9 a.m. until noon at Lebanon City Hall at 200 N. Castle Heights Ave. in Lebanon. Planting guides will be available, and trees given on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

“Last year we gave away 1,300 trees in the first hour and a half,” said R.T. Baldwin, Lebanon GIS manager. 

Baldwin also said the tree giveaway helps to meet federally mandated requirements to educate the public about stormwater. 

“There are so many benefits to planting a tree like better water quality, reduce erosion, reduce sediment in our streams and even increase property values,” Baldwin said. 

The city of Mt. Juliet will give away 1,000 tree saplings Friday afternoon at the Public Works Department office at 71 E. Hill St. in Mt. Juliet. 

The Wilson County Stormwater Department will give away 3,000 trees Saturday starting at 7 a.m. outside of the Gun and Knife Show at the Expo Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon.

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