Tree-planting season takes root in Vancouver

Volunteers have put 51 in ground, with the next event set for Feb. 23

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Did you know?

According to Vancouver Municipal Code 12.04, a permit is required for planting, major pruning and removal of street trees. Street trees are those in which the trunk is wholly or partially located within the right-of-way. For information, call the city’s urban forestry department at 360-487-8328.

Get involved

To participate in a planting for west-side neighborhoods including Rose Village, Central Park and Hudson’s Bay, meet at 8:45 a.m. Feb. 23, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., for coffee and breakfast treats. Gloves and tools are provided, so just dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes. Neighborhood volunteers will provide a potluck lunch after the planting is complete.

photoColumbia River High School students Haley Case, and Raymond Lematta, both 17, help plant trees Jan. 12 in the Meadow Homes neighborhood.

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photoVancouver City Councilor Bart Hansen, from left, Portland Timbers forward Brent Richards, Mayor Tim Leavitt, Timbers defender Ryan Kawulok, team mascot Timber Joey and Lou Hansen take a break from planting trees Jan. 5 in the Meadow Homes area.

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Ideal tree-planting weather begins in November and runs through March, when the rains come and the ground starts to soften, said Charles Ray, Vancouver's urban forester.

Ray said the city tries to arrange four plantings every year with Portland-based Friends of Trees.

Each planting focuses on a different section of the city. So far this month, Meadow Glade, south of Fourth Plain Boulevard and west of Andresen Road, has benefitted the most, with 51 new trees.

On Jan. 5, two members of the Portland Timbers made the first stop in the team's six-city "Dribble Oregon" tour at Meadow Glade, where they were joined by Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, City Councilor Bart Hansen, Meadow Homes resident Amy Wong, who helped coordinate the event, and more than a dozen volunteers.

Eight trees were planted that day.

Another 43 trees were planted in Meadow Glade on Jan. 12, when 76 volunteers turned out, said Ian Bonham, an AmeriCorps volunteer with Friends of Trees who's working out of the city's urban forestry department for a year.

Bonham said volunteers included members of the Clark College Environmental Club and high school students who have been participating in plantings to fulfill service hours requirements.

The largest planting of the season will be Feb. 23, Bonham said, and the city's hoping for a large turnout of volunteers. The focus will shift to neighborhoods west of Interstate 5.

Last year, 125 trees were planted in west-side neighborhoods; he said he'd like to increase that number this year. (For information on how to help, see box below.)

Ray said the city really needs sponsors for the events, and they've been fortunate to partner with Friends of Trees and, this

year, with the Timbers.

The city first received a "Tree City USA" designation more than 20 years ago from the Arbor Day Foundation.

It's the only city in the county with the title, and one requirement is that the city must have an annual forestry budget of at least $2 per capita.

The city spends approximately $3.60 per capita, based on an urban forestry budget of $585,539 and a population of 162,300, Ray said.

According to the urban forestry department's 2011 annual report -- the 2012 report isn't finished yet -- the city worked with neighborhood volunteers to plant 334 street and yard trees at four plantings with Friends of Trees.

The department also worked with Evergreen and Vancouver school districts that year to plant 105 trees, in addition to the work the department does at city-owned facilities.

In 2011, 444 adults and 1,735 youth volunteered 4,773 hours at tree planting and restoration events, according to the report.

The survival rate of new trees, as of 2011, was 95 percent.

Bonham said deciduous trees planted this month in the Meadow Homes neighborhood included glory bower, Cornelian cherry dogwood and forest pansy redbud.