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A reason to ReLeaf

Who hasn’t, in the heart of spring, rejoiced at the bright, green leaves emerging from buds, waving the glorious colors of a season? Who hasn’t, on a hot summer’s day, sought shelter from a blazing sun beneath the branches and leaves of a tree? Who hasn’t, in the first chill of fall, admired the palette of yellows, oranges and reds as the season flames out? Who hasn’t, in the depths of winter, admired the structure of a tree, its patterns of limbs and branches revealed as it slumbers until spring?

Everyone loves a tree — whether it’s a sprawling live oak, a delicate, colorful Japanese maple, a pine tree reaching for the skies or a palm with fronds waving in the breeze. Everyone loves a tree. And trees do a lot for us, as described by the N.C. State University Department of Horticulture Science:

  • Trees can reduce air temperature by blocking sunlight. Further cooling occurs when water evaporates from the leaf surface. The conversion of water to air vapor — a chemical process — removes heat energy from the air.
  • You can improve the efficiency of your heat pump by shading it with a tree.
  • Evergreen trees can be used to reduce wind speed and thus loss of heat from your home in the winter by as much as 10 to 50 percent.
  • Trees absorb and block noise and reduce glare. A well-placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40 percent.
  • Trees help settle out and trap dust, pollen and smoke from the air. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.
  • Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.
  • Trees help reduce surface water runoff from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediments in streams. They increase ground water recharge and reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals transported to our streams.
  • An acre of trees absorb enough carbon dioxide in a year to equal the amount produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles.

So maybe you’re not a fan of trees or their leaves, especially in the fall. Perhaps knowing that trees have an economic impact might soften your opinion of trees. According to N.C. Cooperative Extension, trees can create lasting impression on how a community is perceived by visitors and affect the mood and community pride of its residents, and trees can enhance community economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists — people linger and shop longer when trees are present.

Trees serve the community and the environment. Now there’s a group of people who want to do the same here, one tree at a time. Consider donating to ReLeaf Washington and help re-leaf Washington.

For more information, email macksimpson@yahoo.com or call 252-714-1730.