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Tree Planting Program Strives to Make Streams Healthier

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 | 04:07am

- Landowners and Organizations encouraged to sign-up for 2013 -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) is now accepting applications from landowners and organizations to participate in the Clean Water from Urban Forests Riparian Buffer Grant Program. The program targets watersheds located primarily in Davidson County, but also includes parts of Rutherford and Williamson Counties. The goal of the program is to promote water quality in urban landscapes through the planting of trees along waterways that lack forest cover.

“There is a very real linkage between a clean and abundant municipal water supply to urban trees and forests, especially those along waterways,” said State Forester Jere Jeter. “As municipalities and citizens become more aware of this linkage, it is our hope that they will place more value on forests as a source for clean water, as a mitigator of storm water runoff and flood control, as a provider of recreation, and as an enhancer to home property values.”

The program provides native trees to public and private landowners, at no cost to the landowner, to be planted along streams and waterways in seven priority watersheds located in Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson Counties; specifically these include Upper and Lower Mill Creek, Richland Creek, Browns Creek, Hurricane Creek and Stone's River Middle and Upper watersheds. These watersheds were identified in TDF's 2010 Forest Action Plan as not having adequate riparian forest cover.

“Our cooperators, volunteers and partners this year have been very helpful and supportive of this program and in getting a large number of trees planted in buffers,” said program coordinator Reggie Reeves. “The program is really catching on and we hope that more landowners and organizations take advantage of it in 2013.”

Landowners are asked to make a commitment to care for the trees to maturity. There are no easements or other property right restrictions placed on the landowner's property. Annual visits by TDF personnel, with the landowner's permission, may be provided to assess the trees condition and to provide the landowner with technical assistance on maintaining the trees and the associated riparian buffer.

To date, the program has worked with 12 organizations and more than 400 volunteers to plant 2,716 trees at seven sites within the targeted watersheds. TDF is coordinating this program along with Metro Nashville, the Land Trust for Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the USDA Forest Service and other partner organizations.

Healthy creeks, streams and rivers are dependent on healthy forested stream banks (a.k.a. riparian buffers). These forested riparian buffers offer many benefits not only to the landowner, but also to the watershed and everyone living downstream. They can help stabilize eroding stream banks, filter out sediments and chemicals before they reach the waterway, help recharge groundwater, preserve or improve wildlife and aquatic habitat, and add scenic and economic value to the land. Buffers also help to reduce flooding and erosion by stabilizing shorelines and absorbing high velocity flows.

If you are interested in participating in this free program, would like to volunteer to help plant trees, or would like more information, please contact program coordinator Reggie Reeves at 615-837-5430 or reggie.reeves@tn.gov, or visit http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/forestry/rbp.shtml.

Reeves is scheduled to speak about the grant program at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Nature @ Noontime program Dec. 6 from 12 to 1 p.m. CST at TWRA’s Region II conference room at Ellington Agricultural Center. For more information visit http://www.tn.gov/twra/twralunchbunch.html.

For more information about other programs and services of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture visit www.tn.gov/agriculture .