Friends welcome trees to the city

Volunteers dig in for Vancouver's leafy canopy

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Friends of Trees will sponsor two more tree-planting events in Vancouver this season, on Feb. 26 and March 26.

The first planting will be in the Arnada, Carter Park, Central Park, Edgewood Park, Harney Heights, Hough, Hudson's Bay, Lincoln, Northwest, Rose Village, Shumway and West Minnehaha neighborhoods. The sign-up deadline is Jan. 24.

For the second event, in the Burton Ridge, Fircrest, Marrion, Oakbrook, Ogden and Father Blanchet Park neighborhoods, sign up by Feb. 21.

For $50 per tree, property owners receive assistance in filling out a city-required street tree permit, tree delivery, hole-digging, planting assistance, stakes and follow-up checks for maintenance.

Sign up for a tree or to volunteer at <a href="http://FriendsofTrees.org/BuyTrees">http://FriendsofTrees.org/BuyTrees</a>.

Friends of Trees will sponsor two more tree-planting events in Vancouver this season, on Feb. 26 and March 26.

The first planting will be in the Arnada, Carter Park, Central Park, Edgewood Park, Harney Heights, Hough, Hudson’s Bay, Lincoln, Northwest, Rose Village, Shumway and West Minnehaha neighborhoods. The sign-up deadline is Jan. 24.

For the second event, in the Burton Ridge, Fircrest, Marrion, Oakbrook, Ogden and Father Blanchet Park neighborhoods, sign up by Feb. 21.

For $50 per tree, property owners receive assistance in filling out a city-required street tree permit, tree delivery, hole-digging, planting assistance, stakes and follow-up checks for maintenance.

Sign up for a tree or to volunteer at http://FriendsofTrees.org/BuyTrees.

Unrelenting rain soaked a group of Evergreen High School students Saturday morning as they stood along 155th Avenue watching the proper technique for planting a tree.

“I do realize it’s raining,” event coordinator Jesse Batty told the students. “For people, this is not so good. But for trees, it’s great.”

The 15-foot-tall nursery-grown ash is now dormant, so the warm winter rain will encourage root growth as the tree adapts to its permanent home between the road and a neighbor’s backyard fence.

Volunteers ultimately planted 82 street trees on both sides of this four-block-long stretch through the Summerfield Homes subdivision. The city’s Urban Forestry Department will arrange to water the trees for the next couple of summers, in the latest effort to improve Vancouver’s urban tree canopy.

Members of Evergreen High’s Key Club turned out for the volunteer tree-planting sponsored by the Portland-based nonprofit Friends of Trees, as did members of the Honor Society across town at Columbia River High School.

Friends of Trees, now in its 21st year, recently celebrated its 400,000th planting in the metropolitan area.

Many of those plantings were done in clusters of smaller willows and water-tolerant shrubs along greenways and stream banks throughout the area. Those tend to be less imposing than the bigger street trees planted on Saturday.

This is the seventh year since Friends of Trees expanded its volunteer-driven effort across the Columbia River to Vancouver. The group planted 80 trees on this side of the river the first year, in 2005. Since then, it’s planted more than 1,600 street trees just like the ones that were planted Saturday.

The effort has snowballed as neighbors notice Friends of Trees’ signs.

“As we continue to have these plantings, more and more people come out,” Batty said. “In Portland, we’ve become a household name.”

He said that despite development pressure, Portland’s tree canopy has actually expanded by about 2 percent since Friends of Trees began working in the city two decades ago. An analysis in 2003 revealed that a tad under 20 percent of Vancouver is covered in vegetation taller than 7 feet. The city is hoping to bump that to 28 percent, with resultant benefits in clean air, natural water filtration and aesthetics.

Vancouver urban forester Charles Ray said the city will reassess its canopy again later this year or next year.

He believes the volunteer efforts have made a difference.

“I think we’re going to see a slight increase in the neighborhoods that have participated over the past decade,” he said.

Besides the trees planted Saturday at Summerfield Homes, volunteers plunked an additional 44 trees into the ground in other east Vancouver neighborhoods.

Erik Robinson: 360-735-4551 or erik.robinson@columbian.com.