The weather is warmer, daylight is lasting longer and spring has sprung!

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is celebrating the season by handing out thousands of shrub and tree seedlings to hundreds of citizens across the state.

The Maryland Forest Service has offered its Backyard Buffers program again this March, and through this initiative will be providing more than 21,000 shrubs and trees to state residents ranging from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore.

“Having so many Marylanders working together with us to enhance the tree canopy, protect stream banks and beautify the landscape is inspiring,” Maryland State Forester Don VanHassent said. “This will benefit the ecosystem and our environment, and that’s good for everyone.”

These tree “buffers in a bag” are made available to people with properties that are adjacent to waterways or have water that flows through their land. The seedlings help improve air and water quality by absorbing nutrients and sediment, controlling and mitigating erosion, and stabilizing stream banks.

Seedlings will be distributed to property owners in April in honor of Arbor Day. The department of will participate in a variety of activities and events throughout April in recognition of Maryland Arbor Day (April 5) and national Arbor Day (April 28).