‘Friends of Trees’ celebrates its 400,000th tree

Find out where you can find a plaque that commemorates this non-profit group’s achievement – and what else took place that morning, at a rather unique location in outer East Portland …

Friends of Trees Green Space Manager Logan Lauvray, ODOT’s Elizabeth Craig and Shelli Romero, and Friends of Trees board member Sky O’ Callahan all say they’re looking forward to witnessing the ceremonial planting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The tree planting volunteers who gathered on the east side of Interstate 205, a little south of NE Airport Way East, waited with anticipation for their day’s work to begin.

“Today is special,” commented Scott Fogarty, Executive Director of Friends of Trees, as we stood at the event coordination tent. “It’s a great milestone for our organization – we’re celebrating planting our first 400,000 trees here today.”

Elizabeth Craig, Community Affairs Coordinator at Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) was all smiles as she walked up to greet us.

We asked Craig to remind us why ODOT is involved in a tree-planting program.

“It’s true,” Craig responded, “A lot of people think of ODOT as a highway agency. In fact we are a transportation agency. We invest in all modes of transportation.”

About four years ago, she continued, they partnered with Friends of Trees about to do plantings in Northeast Portland and Montavilla. This grew into the concept of planting trees along the Multi-use Path that borders I-205.

ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator, Elizabeth Craig, says they’re getting close to the half-way point of the I-205 Multi-use Path planting project.

“This month marks the second year of our three-year project to ‘green’ the Multi-use Path, Craig said.

> We were at the project’s kick-off last year; CLICK HERE to see that story.

“Working with Friends of Trees, we came up with a plan to ‘green’ the multi-use path along I-205, presented the concept to Metro , and received a $410,000 grant from the Nature in Neighborhoods Capital Grant program,” Craig related.

At this, their 15th planting session, Craig said that the group is proud of the extraordinary number of trees that are now planted along the freeway, from the bridge on south. “We’re excited about the momentum that we’re building, as we work to plant trees along the entire pathway that traverses through many different neighborhoods and communities.”

Logan Lauvray of Friends of Trees reminds volunteers about the long-ranging ecological benefits of planting trees.

Project yields numerous benefits
The benefit to ODOT, Craig pointed out, is that it makes the path a more user-friendly and more appealing place for people to bike, walk, and access Tri-Met services.

“There’s a lot of land and empty areas along highway corridors,” Friends of Trees Green Space Manager Logan Lauvray chimed in. “These trees will help sequester carbon, increase wildlife habitat, and ultimately reduce the amount of money and other resources being used to mow these areas.”

Craig added, “This is a good collaboration between the non-profit Friends of Trees, ODOT, and the regional government, Metro.  But even more, it’s the hard work of the community volunteers, working together, that make this a unique, exciting project.”

It’s official! Friends of Trees’ Logan Lauvray, Scott Fogarty, and Sean Sweeney smile as they plant the organization’s 400,000th tree.

Before the day’s planting began, volunteers, leaders and officials gathered and watched the 400,000th tree the organization has planted be carefully set in place.

Fogarty observed, “This shows that a commitment by few dedicated people can change our environment and our communities for the better.”

Elizabeth Craig, Sky O’ Callahan, and Scott Fogarty unveil a monument that marks the momentous tree planting across from 10600 NE Holman Street.

As the volunteers broke into teams, Sky O’Callahan, a Friends of Trees board member, told us, “I chose to become involved because the benefit of this work will last long beyond our lifetime. Yes, it does help our City’s infrastructure. But more importantly it also helps build a sense of community when people come out to plan together.”

The project’s not over. If you want to be a part of this historic effort, check with Friends of Trees to learn when, and where, they’ll be planting in February. CLICK HERE to open their website.

Additional support for this three-year project is also provided by East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Portland Development Corporation, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, Worksystems Inc., IKEA, Cantel Sweeping, Collier Arbor Care, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., Portland General Electric, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and REI.

Volunteers watch a tree planting demonstration alongside I-205 as they get ready to plant the 400,001th tree.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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