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Cities, county to give away trees

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Feb 22, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Three stormwater departments in Wilson County will give away five different kinds of native tree saplings Friday and Saturday as part of the Tennessee Environmental Council’s collaborative effort, known as the 100K Tree Day, to plant 100,000 trees across the state this weekend. 

The cities of Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, as well as Wilson County, will collectively offer 5,000 tree saplings to residents on a first-come, first-serve basis. Free tree saplings will be available from the cities of Lebanon and Mt. Juliet on Friday and from the Wilson County Stormwater Department on Saturday at the Expo Center. Sapling species of eastern red bud, shumad or red oak, Virginia pine, American plum and yellow or tulip poplar will be available. 

All 95 Tennessee counties will see new trees planted this weekend as more than 20,000 volunteers plan to help with the effort.  

“We are very blessed at the TEC to be able to give these trees away to Tennesseans,” said John McFadden, director of the Tennessee Environmental Council. “Planting trees is one of the best things that we can do for our economy, our community and for our quality of life.”

The first tree giveaway event was the 5K Tree Day, organized by the TEC in 2012. McFadden said the first event was put together to honor his 50th birthday and just grew from there. The past two years the TEC put together the 50K Tree Day, and this year is the first time the collaborative effort has set out to plant 100,000 trees across the state. 

“One of the problems we’ve seen over the years is that our streams are not healthy. They’re polluted. That’s mostly because of the stormwater runoff from the parking lots, rooftops, shopping malls and even our yards. So one of the most important things we can do for our rivers and streams in our urban areas is to plant trees because trees will absorb that stormwater and filter pollutants out of floodwaters.”

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. 

The 100K Tree Day is made possible with the TEC’s partnership with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee State Parks and several other organizations across the state.

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