The Tennessee Environmental Council (Council), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry (TDA) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) announced on Wednesday their partnership to distribute and plant 100,000 native Tennessee trees across our state on Saturday, Feb. 25. The event is being hailed as the single largest community tree planting event in the state’s history.
All trees are offered at no cost to Tennessee residents and organizations who register at the event website www.tectn.org/100ktreeday from now through Feb. 19 (while supplies last) and commit to planting them on Saturday, Feb. 25. Because of anticipated high demand for these trees, the Council encourages people to register for their trees as soon as they find out about this opportunity. Donations and sponsorships are encouraged on the event website to help cover the costs of making trees available free to participants.
“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,” said Mr. McFadden. “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,” says McFadden.
This 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 provide invaluable 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/or farms.
“Planting trees is a simple way to prevent pollution before it occurs and help protect Tennessee’s water quality,” said TDEC Commissioner Robert J. Martineau, Jr. “Just 100 trees can capture nearly 140,000 gallons of rainwater annually, limit storm water runoff and add critical water resources to our reservoirs.”
Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton said, “You can look out almost any window and understand the importance of forestry to Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry is a proud steward of that resource. By taking part in the 100K Tree Day, we look forward to working with the public and our partners to improve the woodlands across our state.”
TWRA Assistant Commissioner Bobby Wilson said, “Trees are important to everything we do as a management agency,” Wilson is assistant director for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Our birds, terrestrial wildlife, and even fish benefit from the wise management of our woodlands.”
“Trees are a key symbol in the Bible,” said Ryan Bennett, co-director of Blessed Earth Tennessee. “Where a tree is mentioned, there you will find God at work bringing life and hope. Every time we plant a tree, we are bearing witness to the life giving qualities of God and God’s work in the world.”
Chris Jones, president and CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric said, “we are happy to be part of this effort by serving as a distribution points for Rutherford, Williamson, Wilson and Cannon counties and to continue to partner with Tennessee Environmental Council.”
Vicki Turner, president of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation said, “we are proud to partner with the Council and their efforts to re-forest Tennessee and re-introduce the American Chestnut. Restoration Chestnut trees were planted earlier this year in select state parks to honor our veterans. We look forward to the day we can plant 100,000 American Chestnuts across Tennessee.”
Homeowners, businesses, and groups of any kind will receive free trees for their property or community, and are being asked to plant them on Feb. 25. Earlier this year more than 6,000 volunteers and dozens of organizations participated in 50K Tree Day (February 27 2016) planting trees in 92 counties, generating an in-kind value over $400,000 in volunteer labor by planting almost 46,000 trees in one day, according to tectn.org.
Event organizers are looking for individuals and groups to get involved. For more information or to sign up visit tectn.org/100ktreeday
100K Tree Day is coordinated by Tennessee Environmental Council, Cumberland River Compact, Tennessee Department of Agriculture (Division of Forestry), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee State Parks, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Sponsors for the effort include the above agencies and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative’s Sharing the Change program, Nashville Natives, and MS4 Stormwater Groups with the City of White House, City of Goodlettsville, and the City of Mt. Juliet.