Volunteers dotted West 33rd Street early Monday, and after their efforts, trees dotted the corridor, too. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, people planted 40 street trees with the city of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry Program to restore the tree canopy and improve safety in the Carter Park neighborhood.
“This is a busy corridor, but it’s also in the middle of a residential area,” said Jessica George, Urban Forestry outreach coordinator.
As she helped a team of volunteers plant dogwoods near Kauffman Avenue, she said street trees act as a traffic calming device, encouraging drivers to slow down.
James Lanz lived on West 30th Street for years but recently moved out of the area.
“I decided to come back and give back to the neighborhood,” he said while wrangling a magnolia tree.
Other tree varieties planted Monday include Persian parrotia, Oregon white oak, incense cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar and cypress. George said Urban Forestry typically does service projects such as tree plantings or prunings on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Earth Day, Arbor Day or just random Saturdays.
Robyn Gray said she wanted to get involved with the project and volunteered going door to door asking neighbors if they wanted a tree. A gardener, she said she likes digging around in the dirt. Gray lives in the area and already has two trees in front of her house that she planted through Friends of Trees.
Besides beautifying the area, street trees help improve air quality, manage stormwater runoff and encourage neighbors to interact, as they can be a source of neighborhood pride, George said.
“There are nesting bald eagles in that grove of fir trees,” she said, pointing up the street. “How cool is that?”
Vancouver’s overall tree canopy — that is the percent of land covered by trees — is 18.5 percent. The city aims to increase the canopy to 28 percent by 2030 by planting about 1,000 new trees every year. George noted that the tree canopy is larger in high-income areas and sparser in low-income areas.
“We’re really looking to address that,” she said.
She said Vancouver’s east side in particular has lost large native trees through development.
The tree planting wasn’t the only service project happening to recognize the late civil rights activist, who would be 90 if he were still alive today. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968.
In honor of his legacy, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is recognized as a national day of service. On Monday, Clark County volunteers potted seedlings at Clark Public Utilities’ native nursery, planted trees along Burnt Bridge Creek and in Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, spruced up Pacific Community Park’s gardens and sorted food at the Clark County Food Bank.