Loudon County tree lovers celebrated Tennessee Tree Day by picking up a free seedling Saturday from the University of Tennessee Extension on River Road.
“It’s been going great,” Sharon Long, with the County Soil Conservation office, said.
The Tennessee Environmental Council has tried to motivate 10,000 volunteers to plant trees across the state and in neighboring states that connect to Tennessee watersheds. Since 2007, tree day events have resulted in the planting of 741,960 native trees in Tennessee and surrounding states, according to TEC.
“It’s always been a successful event,” Long said.
Long said 772 trees were scheduled to be given away in the county. Some people ask for a single tree and some want dozens, she said. The trees are free but donations were welcomed.
People who wanted trees registered in advance to pick up seedlings of their choice.
Volunteers from local 4-H chapters checked people in, selected the trees and made sure they were labeled and wrapped in a protective plastic bag.
“These 4-H kids are large and in charge,” Long said. “They’re all hard workers.”
Cade Stinnett, a 4-H student from Greenback, said he enjoyed taking part in the event. He said he raises and shows cattle and lambs as a part of his participation in 4-H. While unsure if long-term plans will include working in agriculture and livestock, he said he is interested.
“I think it would be a cool career to get into,” Stinnett said.
Native trees available included Bald Cypress, Eastern Redbud, Gray Dogwood, Northern Red Oak, Nuttail Oak, Pawpaw, Pecan, Red Mulberry, Shagbark Hickory, Wild Plum, Hybrid Chestnut and Virginia Pine.
Eastern Redbud is the most popular, UT Extension Agent John Goddard said.
Cyd and Nick Vacio were picking up Hickory, Redbud, Dogwood and Oaks for their collection and planned to spend the weekend planting. This is the third year they have participated in the program. They have planted about 30 trees of various types in their own private arboretum complete with signs identifying the species.
Tracy Dekany was picking up about 20 seedlings to plant on property her family recently acquired. She said she was disappointed when trees on the property were cut down and wanted to try and restore what was lost.
“It was so sad to see them cut down,” she said. “I may not be around to see the trees when they are full grown, but I know they will be growing.”
TEC is spreading the word about the benefits of trees.
“Trees help the environment by removing carbon emissions from the air,” Long said, adding that trees prevent erosion and help keep the watershed clean.
In addition to the environmental benefits and aesthetic beauty trees add to the environment, they are also used as generational legacies, Long said.
Older people often plant trees knowing they may never live to see them grow to maturity. The trees are gifts to children and grandchildren who can remember past generations by the trees they planted, she said.
According to the Urban Forestry Network, over a 50-year life cycle, the 750,000 trees planted through tree day efforts have resulted in clean air and clean water valued at more than $64 billion, 450,000 tons of carbon dioxide mitigated from the atmosphere and 3,000 acres of additional tree canopy for wildlife habitat and forage.