Free tree giveaways happening across the Tampa Bay area to celebrate Earth Day

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Monday is Earth Day, and there are several free events and tree giveaways happening in the Tampa Bay area.

We spoke to Carolyn Cheatham Rhodes, an urban forester, about the important role trees play in our everyday lives. They’re home to insects and bugs, provide shade to keep the area cool and keep rainwater out of the Bay.

Cheatham Rhodes said trees provide many ecosystem benefits and that as the Tampa Bay area develops and grows, our tree canopy is shrinking.

“I think it is across the Bay Area. It’s a cancer. We have to have careful development. We need to make sure we are preserving green spaces,” Cheatham Rhodes said.

She said it’s a problem for many reasons, but one big issue is pollinators are having a hard time finding a place to live.

“Our pollinator species—they are important for fruit production and vegetable production in our backyards,” Cheatham Rhodes said.

She is encouraging people to plant a tree this weekend to celebrate Earth Day. There will be free tree giveaways.

You can also use the Tree-mendous Tampa free program to request a tree be planted along a street.

There are also multiple locations. On April 20, at 9:00 a.m., you can pick up a free tree from the City of Oldsmar at 300 Commerce Blvd, Oldsmar.

Pinellas County is also hosting two tree giveaways for Pinellas residents.

  • April 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lealman Exchange Community Center in St. Petersburg.
  • April 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Eagle Lake Park in Largo.

Matthew Hill, an urban forestry specialist with Pinellas County, said planting a tree is a great learning experience for children.
“You are putting something living into the ground, and as that tree begins to grow, you have a sense of accomplishment,” Hill said.

Hill said to have a utility locate done before you dig to plant your tree.

Elizabeth Hartranft was traveling to Tampa and had to leave her Airbnb the same day she arrived after its host denied her service dog. ABC Action News reporter Rochelle Alleyne spoke to experts about the rise of fake service animals and the uncertain rights of people with legitimate service dogs.

Denied: the rise of fake service dogs and the harm it’s doing to those that are ‘legit’

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