Healing Orange County landscape effort begins; see how you can get a tree replanted

Published 8:43 am Friday, April 28, 2023

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Orange County has been devastated by numerous hurricanes and tornados over the past decade, leading a team of organizations and businesses to address an overlooked part of the recovery process — trees.

Grady McGahan, senior director of community development for Keep America Beautiful, said trees are destroyed alongside housing and infrastructure in every natural disaster.

“Of everything lost, trees take the longest to replace because you cannot rebuild them,” McGahan said. “Planting new trees brings life back to neighborhoods and produces an immense psychological impact by making decimated landscapes feel like home again.”

Keep America Beautiful, Keep Orange County Beautiful and Keep Texas Beautiful are launching Orange County RETREET, an effort to heal the landscape of Orange County.

Organizers say new trees serve as powerful symbols of hope. They reestablish the environmental identity of Orange County, provide shade, energy savings, stormwater management, pollution reduction and myriad economic benefits for residents and wildlife.

This signature tree planting is made possible through contributions from Dow, Chevron Phillips, Lamar State College Orange and Solvay, with operational support from Orange County Disaster Rebuild and a host of other local partners.

Christina Babcock, public affairs leader, said Dow is proud to be a part of the Orange community and “this uniquely impactful event.”

“Orange County RETREET will be an exciting day when we all come together with our neighbors and industry partners to plant trees that will beautify and improve the environment for countless families,” she said.

How disaster survivors can request trees:

Owners of residential properties in Orange County that have been impacted by natural disaster over the past 10 years are able to visit retreet.org/orange to complete a simple online form to request that free, native trees be planted for them.

The trees will be 1.5” caliper in size, approximately 7- to 9-feet tall.

RETREET program staff and local partners will work with as many of those who submit requests as possible in order to determine the best planting locations at each home site.

The trees will be delivered and planted by volunteers during Texas Arbor Day weekend — Nov. 3 and 4, 2023. All owners of impacted properties can complete their tree requests online now.

Representatives from RETREET will reach out as the planting event draws near to walk homeowners through program.

Inquiries about Orange County RETREET can be submitted to Jerí Irby at jirby@kab.org.

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