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Press Release

03 March 2023 · 7 min. read

ReLeaf Free Tree to Give Away 1,000 Free Trees Beginning March 4

City of Chattanooga, Reflection Riding and EPB Join to Provide Local Varieties to Improve Stormwater Drainage

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (March 3, 2023) – The City of Chattanooga, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center and EPB join again to give away 1,000 free trees through the Free Tree ReLeaf program, two per household while limited supplies last. EPB joins the collaboration for the second time to improve stormwater drainage, support cleaner air and create cooler neighborhoods. EPB Energy ProsSM and Reflection Riding staff developed detailed guidance to select, plant and maintain healthy trees, which will be available on-site and online at

In addition to removing carbon dioxide from the air and providing cooling benefits, a healthy network of trees and their roots support stormwater drainage and filter groundwater.

“Chattanooga is a green city. By planting these trees today, we are investing in tomorrow, so that we grow as a community in a way that’s good and sustainable for everyone,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “That’s why programs like this one are so important. Together, we’ll be adding thousands of new trees to our neighborhoods, which will support and sustain our city for years to come.”

When mature, the 1,000 trees available through Free Tree ReLeaf this spring will ease the burden on the city stormwater system by reducing runoff by more than 2 million gallons. Stormwater runoff results from rainwater that falls on hard, impervious surfaces like roofs, roads and parking lots. When rain doesn’t fall on soil or natural ground cover, it cannot be filtered or absorbed by trees and plants and instead enters storm drains, creeks and rivers without the benefit of being treated. Especially in highly developed areas or areas damaged by storms, stormwater runoff can result in pollutants and debris being washed into drainage systems and waterways.

However, when trees are planted too close to power lines, they may need to be trimmed to reduce the risk of power outages. EPB Energy Pros offer information at about how far away from power lines each variety of tree should be planted to avoid outages and avoid costly maintenance.

“Anyone who has been to Chattanooga knows how special our trees are,” said EPB President & CEO David Wade. “The last thing we want to do is trim or cut down a tree because it could be a risk for power outages. Our EPB Energy Pros provide guidelines to help customers find the right place to plant their new trees so they can enjoy them for years and avoid putting their power at risk.”

Ten varieties of native trees are available through Free Tree ReLeaf to eligible homes, chosen for their status as native plants and benefits to wildlife. Information about the ideal setting for each tree, planting guides and directions for care are available at

  • American Holly (Ilex opaca)
  • Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
  • Black Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
  • Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
  • Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
  • Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
  • Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
  • Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

“Introducing more native plants like the ones through Free Tree ReLeaf support our community’s entire ecosystem from healthier air to cleaner water to more habitat for wildlife,” said Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center President & CEO Mark McKnight. “We appreciate the City and EPB’s collaboration to support and restore our unique and diverse ecosystem.”

What to expect when picking up free trees:

  • Before visiting Reflection Riding, visit to learn what trees are available and more about the program. Reflection Riding’s Native Plant Nursery is also available by phone directly at 423-497-6208.
  • Follow signs to the Native Plant Nursery where parking is available.
  • Employees or volunteers will greet guests and ask them for their address to confirm they are eligible for free trees.
  • Next, based on the location and environment of customer homes, nursery personnel will suggest trees that are well-suited to their property and preferences.
  • Once at home, refer to to get species-specific information about where to plant trees and how to care for them.

Nursery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reflection Riding is located at 400 Garden Road, Chattanooga, TN 37419, on the west side at the base of Lookout Mountain.

Each home is eligible for two trees while supplies last. There is no need to make reservations or call ahead. Trees cannot be reserved prior to arrival.

EPB Energy Pros provide free expertise and services that are available to all EPB customers including free EPB Home Energy CheckupsSM and phone consultations that give customers personalized recommendations about the most cost-effective ways to make their homes healthier and more energy efficient:

  • Home renovations: At customer request, inspect work when the project is complete.
  • Appliance advice: Identify energy-efficient appliances for a range of budgets.
  • Solar and EV charger installations: Advise on best practices, work with customers during installation process and provide a free, third-party verification of completed work. (EPB does not sell or install solar panels or EV chargers.)

Services are available to homeowners and renters at no charge to help them get the most value from the energy they use. Customers can call EPB Energy Pros at 423-648-1372 or book an appointment at

The free tree program was created as a partnership between the City of Chattanooga and Reflection Riding intended to improve stormwater drainage and water quality following the Easter tornadoes in 2020. EPB began participating in fall 2022, which expanded eligibility to all EPB customers.

About Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center

For more than 65 years, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center has been hard at work restoring the vital connection between people and nature. They believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience nature, regardless of where they live or their economic status. We believe that when the benefits of the outdoors are accessible to everyone, Chattanooga becomes stronger and more connected.

Reflection Riding actively manages their 300-acre landscape to safeguard populations of imperiled plant and animal species. Their Native Plant Nursery is open to the public so people across the region can learn about and care for native plants in their yards and community landscapes. They partner with agencies and local governments to incorporate native plants in their outdoor projects. On-site, we teach habitat restoration workshops, offer a certificate in native plants in partnership with other local organizations and provide hands-on volunteer opportunities to remove invasive species and restore native plants.

Reflection Riding believes that all people deserve opportunities to learn in and appreciate the outdoors so they become lifelong champions for the natural world. Learn more at

About EPB

EPB delivers advanced smart city infrastructure and world-class energy and connectivity solutions, including the most resilient smart grid power distribution system in the United States and the fastest internet in the world. EPB gained national notice when it deployed America’s first community-wide Gig-speed internet in 2010, later expanding the ubiquitously available service to 10 Gig in 2015 and 25 Gig in 2022. Ever committed to keeping Chattanooga on the cutting edge, in 2022, EPB established EPB Quantum NetworkSM powered by Qubitekk, America’s first industry-led, commercially available quantum network designed for private companies as well as government and university researchers to run quantum equipment and applications in an established fiber optic environment.

EPB utilizes its fiber optic network as the communications backbone for more than 200,000 smart switches, sensors and other devices. As a result, the Chattanooga area’s power distribution system is the most advanced and highly automated smart grid in the nation. This led the U.S. Department of Energy to name EPB a living laboratory for pioneering smart grid technologies. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and more than 20 other national research partners to play a critical role in more than $155 million in smart city research, earning such recognitions as the R&D 100 Award for its work to apply quantum technologies to securing America’s electric grid. EPB was also the first major power distribution utility to earn the GBCI’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid in 2015 and followed up in 2021 by re-certifying at PEER Gold.

EPB is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga which began serving customers in 1939 and today reaches a 600-square-mile service territory that includes the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the surrounding area. Visit for more information.

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