According to the Tennessee Environmental Council, a single tree provides $130,750 in total environmental benefits, including oxygen, air pollution control and stormwater drainage over the course of 50 years.
That’s why the Council and an army of 25,000 volunteers will plant 250,000 trees on Feb. 24 as part of the organization’s Tennessee Tree Project.
“Trees help protect our state’s most important natural resources,” Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau said in a recent press release from the TEC. “They are vital for maintaining water quality, healthy air, flood prevention, wildlife habitat and healthy communities.”
Despite these benefits, the U.S. Forest Service recently reported more than 2 million acres of Tennessee’s native forests and 500,000 acres of other forests — many of which are in East Tennessee — have been cut to support the state’s growing population.
Since 2007, the Council has planted more than 360,000 trees in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
TEC Director of Development Kelly West, a native of Bristol, said the organization could exceed its goal this year. With Sevier County playing a big role in this year’s campaign because of the devastation experienced after wildfires in the Gatlinburg area more than a year ago, she said thousands of volunteers have been getting involved from all over East Tennessee to register before the deadline on Feb. 1.
“They’ve already ordered thousands and thousands of trees because of the devastation they’ve experienced,” West said.
During the annual drive, Tennesseans across the state go to distribution centers to get the materials needed to plant the trees. Last year, West said the Council met its 100,000-tree goal earlier than expected.
To learn more about the campaign and the closest distribution centers in your area, visit the campaign website at www.tectn.org/250ktreeday for details on registration and other updates. For additional information, contact West at [email protected]