If it's free, it's for me. And maybe you, too. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) is once again launching a program that not only helps the environment, but provides New Yorkers with free trees and shrubs as well.

The program, dubbed "Trees for Tribs" focuses on re-establishing trees in specific areas of New York to help combat erosion, prevent flooding, and even help fishing enthusiasts (and fish). Here's how to tell if you qualify for the free program.

Established trees and shrubs near streams are a major help to the environment, says the DEC (Jahoo Clouseau via Canva)
Established trees and shrubs near streams are a major help to the environment, says the DEC (Jahoo Clouseau via Canva)

Get Free Trees from the New York DEC

The full name of the initiative is the "Trees for Tribs Buffer in a Bag Program". Put more plainly, the DEC is looking to grow trees next to tributaries ("Tribs") to provide buffers between land and water. The program offers free tree and shrub seedlings to certain New Yorkers.

To qualify, you must be a land owner or land manager in New York State with a property that has at least 50 feet of land located next to a tributary (a tributary is defined as "small creeks and streams that flow into larger rivers and lakes"). Applying is easy.

The "Buffer in a Bag" Program from the New York DEC

The "Buffer in a Bag" program is now open for 2023, and New Yorkers can apply until April 7th at 3pm or until the seedling supply (provided by the Colonel William F. Fox Saratoga Memorial Tree Nursery) is exhausted. Helping create an established tributary buffer is just one way to help with halt pollution and land destruction while simultaneously encouraging natural habitats for wildlife and promoting overall environmental health, the DEC says.

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Apply for Your Free Trees

There are a few guidelines that New Yorkers must follow even after they are accepted by the program. Learn more and find the link to apply here. Need more proof that our waterways need to be protected? Check out the adorable frolicking beaver family in Orange County, NY below.

Frolicking Beaver Family Swims in the Hudson Valley

Mom, dad, and two adorable baby beavers took some family time out on a Orange County, NY lake

Photos: Massive Eagles Fight Over Fish on the Hudson