The city of Bellevue has announced that applications are available for its annual tree giveaway program. Bellevue residents will have the opportunity to get, for free, up to two trees to plant. They will also get free training, supplies and insight as to how to take care of these trees, some of which can last for centuries.
Bellevue’s city government has a policy goal of having 40% of the city’s area covered by trees by 2050. To that end, the city gives out a large number of trees for local people and communities to plant every year, with over 1000 trees given away last year alone. This year, 715 trees are available. They consist of 13 species, ranging from fruit to evergreen. A couple examples for this year are the following:
- The Desert King Fig, a fruit tree that grows to be between 15 and 25 feet tall and has a strong resistance to cold, as well as high water needs
- The Douglas Fir, a common local tree that can grow to be 100-200 feet tall, lives 500 years on average and has low water needs
- The Serviceberry, a white flower tree which grows to be about 15-25 feet tall, does not usually live longer than 50 years and has moderate water needs
All three trees can live in most soils and require substantial access to sun to grow properly.
According to the environmentalist organization The Nature Conservancy, planting trees has several benefits to both humans and the environment:
- Consuming carbon dioxide, much of which we put into the atmosphere, thereby helping to combat climate change
- Removing particulate matter, which are tiny bits of things like acids, pieces of metal and chemicals
- Boosting physical and mental health. Being in nature has been shown to lower the chances of depression and anxiety, as well as encouraging people to exercise more
The group also states that other benefits include giving shelter to various animals and filtering drinking water by removing pollutants and sediments from rainfall.
Applicants for the giveaway will need to fill out an application by August 31. This form includes online training about planting and taking care of trees, as well as questions about personal information. Applicants will find out in September whether or not they have been selected. Those who have been selected will receive their trees on October 31.
As a side note, Bellevue College also involves itself with a tree giveaway. During Earth Week, a series of activities held on campus in April to promote environmental causes, BC partners with the group 300 Trees in order to distribute trees on campus. These trees are then taken home and planted by students and staff in the same way, and for the same reasons, as the city tree giveaway.