Tideland EMC distributing trees to observe Arbor Day

Published 8:05 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

To celebrate North Carolina Arbor Day, which is today, Tideland Electric Membership Corp. is distributing 1,285 loblolly pine seedlings to fourth-graders at 16 schools in eastern North Carolina.

Given that trees are the No. 1 cause of power outages, Tideland’s participation in a tree-planting program may seem counterproductive. However, the electric co-op hopes that sowing some educational seeds now will lead to long-term savings.

“The right tree in the right place benefits everyone,” said Tideland EMC spokeswoman Heidi Jernigan Smith. “Through the Arbor Day seedling program, we hope to educate the next generation of consumers about the benefits of trees and how to select a proper planting location to avoid interference with utility equipment.”

Each fourth-grader will take home an individually packaged 18-inch seedling sealed in a polybag by workers with disabilities. Each package includes planting and care instructions along with a power-line safety message.

North Carolina has nearly 17 million acres of forestland spanning 58 percent of the state’s total land area. Only three states have more commercial forestland. Collectively, this forestland provides clean water and air, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. The forest products industry continues to be North Carolina’s second-largest manufacturing industry, employing more than 118,000 residents with an annual payroll of $3.8 billion. There are more than 3,000 forest-product manufacturing facilities in the state affecting nearly all of the state’s 100 counties. When applying an economic multiplier, the total economic benefit of that industry is $29.7 billion, representing more than 312,000 jobs.

Trees are an important part of energy conservation, and when the right tree is planted in the right place it provides shade in summer and acts as a windbreak. Wood, including wood waste, is increasingly being utilized as a fuel to generate electric power and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as a renewable energy resource.

The schools participating in the Arbor Day celebration are Bath Elementary, Chocowinity Primary, John Small Elementary, Northeast Elementary, S.W. Snowden Elementary, Washington Montessori Charter School, Pungo Christian Academy, Terra Ceia Christian School, Bridgeton Elementary, Mattamuskeet Elementary, Ocracoke School, Arapahoe Charter School, Fred A. Anderson Elementary, Creswell Elementary, Pines Elementary and Manteo Elementary.