A crew from the Washington Conservation Corps will work throughout the month of March to spiff up the Weber Evergreen Arboretum, a historic property on Old Evergreen Highway. Volunteers from the community are welcome to join them March 15 for a work party.
The Jane Weber Evergreen Arboretum is a private property with a long and interesting history. The house on the site, built in 1867, is considered the oldest private home in the county still in its original location. Its first owner, John Stanger, actually settled the site decades earlier and ran a mill there.
In the 1950s Dr. Vinson Weber, a dentist and teacher, bought the property with his wife, Jane, and spent the next four decades lovingly tending the house and grounds. After Jane died in 1974, Vinson Weber donated the property to Clark College. To make sure the property was never sold and redeveloped, he even had himself and Jane buried on the grounds.
In recent years, former Vancouver trails and greenways manager Kelly Punteney became the property's resident caretaker and is now engaged in a long-term campaign to upgrade it and get the city of Vancouver to accept it as a public park.
His efforts have included maintenance on the aging
buildings, installing small "vignette" community gardens and eliminating lots of invasive ivy and blackberries from the grounds.
Now, the Washington Conservation Corps will spend the month of March caring for its trees and grounds — pruning, planting, weeding, chipping and mulching.
There are more than 40 mature native, fruit and other trees on the site, Punteney said, but invasive plants are always threatening them. Plus, five new community-sponsored trees will be planted.
Visitors and volunteers are always welcome, Punteney said, and you don’t need an appointment to explore the grounds, which extend from Evergreen Highway down to the Columbia River.
Volunteers are especially welcome March 15, when they’ll be put to best use, he said. If you’re interested, contact Punteney at 360-921-8374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The property address is 9215 S.E. Evergreen Highway, Vancouver.
Washington Conservation Corps efforts such as this one are supported through national service organization AmeriCorps, the state Department of Natural Resources’ Urban and Community Forest Program and the U.S. Forest Service.