Thursday, June 30, 2022
June 30, 2022

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Clark County volunteers put down roots

Vancouver celebrates ‘one of our more prominent natural resources — our trees’

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
7 Photos
Matthew Kuntz, left, of Vancouver Parks and Recreation and Kevin Carr of Bartlett Tree Experts dig a hole Saturday morning during an Arbor Day service project hosted by Vancouver's Urban Forestry Commission at Old Apple Tree Park in Vancouver. Volunteers planted seven trees around the park and several small plants near the Vancouver Land Bridge.
Matthew Kuntz, left, of Vancouver Parks and Recreation and Kevin Carr of Bartlett Tree Experts dig a hole Saturday morning during an Arbor Day service project hosted by Vancouver's Urban Forestry Commission at Old Apple Tree Park in Vancouver. Volunteers planted seven trees around the park and several small plants near the Vancouver Land Bridge. (Elayna Yussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The rain clouds parted as Rich McConaghy dug a hole Saturday morning for a Juncus plant next to the Vancouver Land Bridge. As he began on another plant, the rain returned. Not long after that, the sun came out yet again.

Mother Nature gave about 20 volunteers the works Saturday as they livened up Old Apple Tree Park and the nearby land bridge with new trees and small plants in honor of Arbor Day. The city’s Urban Forestry Commission hosted the annual Arbor Day celebration next to the historic Old Apple Tree, where new, young trees sported a few blooms Saturday.

“Each year, we gather to celebrate Arbor Day. We really are looking to bear witness to one of our more prominent natural resources — our trees,” Urban Forestry Outreach Coordinator Jessica George said. “Trees really link our generations and our community together.”

Next to the landmark apple tree, a group of volunteers planted seven new trees: two deodar cedars, two Douglas firs, one giant sequoia, one Alaskan yellow cedar and their final tree, an Oregon white oak.

The volunteers made quick work of planting the fresh trees and hammering in the stakes, affixed with informational tags.

Attendees ranged from longtime volunteers to newer ones, like 8-year-old Gabriel, who came with his grandmother Joyce Moulton. Gabriel noted the way trees supply oxygen and can help curb the warming of the Earth. Moulton felt Arbor Day was a great opportunity to show her grandson the importance of trees and volunteering.

Moulton and her grandson also came out to support their neighbor Kurt Koenig, who was one of three people honored with the Mac Award on Saturday for his care for trees in the community. Quentin Welch and Jeff Kessenich were also awarded the honor.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle recognized the city’s 33 years as a designated Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

“We know all of the values of trees. We know how they’re keeping our water clean and combating climate change,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “And now it’s part of our goal for the city to get as many trees in as we can, and then protecting them and caring for them.”

Vancouver resident Jordan Endahl brought his 18-month-old daughter, Jane, to the park near the Old Apple Tree, which he’s helped to nurture while working with Bartlett Tree Experts. He didn’t let the rain deter him from bringing Jane along, bundling the toddler in a rain jacket and boots.

“It’s really cool to see all the different ways that cities and communities celebrate Arbor Day. The more trees we can plant, the better for the next generation, right?” he said while watching young Jane waddle around in the dirt.

Several students from Mountain View High School also got their hands dirty, including senior Amanda Harper and juniors Alex Lulay and Jonathan Barry.

McConaghy attended many Arbor Day ceremonies as the city’s environmental resources manager. Despite retiring from that post, he still made the drive from Washington County in order to mark the occasion by giving back to the community. He said it was great to see people willing to spend their time volunteering again after many opportunities were canceled because of COVID-19.

Although he was planting smaller plants instead of trees Saturday, he said, “Whatever planting you’re doing helps.”

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