Thanks to a new city initiative, 200 Charlottesville utilities customers can plant a tree of their own for free.
The Charlottesville Department of Utilities is partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation’s Energy-Saving Trees Program to provide 200 free trees to utilities customers within the city, encouraging them to conserve energy and reduce energy bills through strategic tree planting.
Tree reservations are limited to one tree per service address and made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Monday, March 14. Reservations can be accessed through Utilities’ interactive tree portal provided by the Arbor Day foundation at www.arborday.org/charlottesville.
The goal of the project is to provide benefits for the entire community through tree planting, such as increasing capacity for carbon sequestration, improving air quality and providing more effective stormwater filtration and runoff reduction to help keep pollutants out of water supplies.
Properly planted trees can reduce the amount of energy a home requires to remain comfortable by providing a barrier to cold winter winds and delivering shade in the summer. When planted properly, a single tree that grows over time can save a homeowner up to 20% on energy costs.
According to a report from the city’s Tree Commission, Charlottesville’s tree canopy is dwindling, with accelerating tree loss higher in lower-income neighborhoods resulting in heat islands for some of the city’s most marginalized residents.
According to the commission’s report, the city saw a tree canopy loss of 660 acres, or 10% of the total canopy, between 2004 and 2018 and projects a total loss of at least 990 acres between 2004 and 2022, about 15% of the city’s total tree cover.
The city has not met its goal to plant 200 trees a year in five years.
With guidance from the Charlottesville Tree Commission, available tree varieties include Southern Red Oak, Serviceberry, Sycamore, Willow Oak, and Black Gum.
Prior to planting a tree, customers are expected to follow the law, and contact Virginia 811 at least three working days before planting to have the location of buried utility lines on their property marked by a professional. The service is free.
For more information about the Energy-Saving Trees Program and the Arbor Day Foundation contact Utilities Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.