Hundreds of trees planted in Northeast Portland

Take a look, and meet the volunteers who helped add to the outer East Portland tree canopy this winter …

These are only some of the more than 200+ trees planted in Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Argay Terrace, and Wilkes neighborhoods by Friends of Trees volunteers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Every winter, just as spring starts showing its face, the Friends of Trees organization sets out to plant new street (curbside) and yard trees in outer East Portland.

On the morning of Saturday, February 27, volunteers gathered in the St. Rita’s Catholic Church Parish Hall.

David Douglas High School instructor Anne Downing spends a moment with Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz before the groups head out for a morning of tree planting.

Then they headed out, maps in hand, to tree-planting locations in the Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Argay Terrace, and Wilkes neighborhoods.

“We have free street trees this year, so we’re glad for the large turnout of volunteers. Last year, we planted about 140 trees,” remarked Friends of Trees Neighborhood Tree Specialist Andrew Land, as the throng of budding arborists headed outside to join their teams.

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors Chair Tom Badrick thanks volunteers for planting trees in the neighborhood he represents.

Friends of Trees Neighborhood Specialist Andrew Land says it’s much more than just a job for him. “I love trees,” he says.

“We’re trying to address the issue of inadequate tree canopy in this cluster of neighborhoods,” explained Land. “We want to make sure that these residents receive the benefit that neighborhoods with good a tree canopy enjoy.”

The day’s goal was to plant 220 trees with volunteers, and about 20 more trees with contractor help, Land told East Portland News.

David Douglas High School (DDHS) students are among volunteers planting trees along this neighborhood street.

Some 75 volunteers were students at David Douglas High School, Land pointed out – along with such other groups as Cub Scout packs, Wells Fargo employees, and Port of Portland team volunteers.

“This effort is important, because trees provide a huge public health benefit that some people may overlook,” Land said.

DDHS student Mohammad Khalid cuts binding strips off a soon-to-be installed tree.

The benefits of having more trees include:

  • Trees help give a neighborhood personality
  • Trees provide food and habitat for native and migrant birds
  • Trees provide shade, addressing “urban heat zone” challenges in the summer
  • Trees filter the air and clean it, and help filter the water into the ground instead of overwhelming sewer systems.

Being able to provide trees without cost to neighbors, this time around, was made possible by a grant from the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Land observed. Also, Friends of Trees always helps subsidize part of the cost from other funding sources.

Six-year-old Cora Trahey, and her mom is Kali Kiger, mulch around a tree.

It’s a happy day for him, Land said. “Honestly I do love trees. I think they’re fantastic and amazing. I also appreciate the community-building aspect. For example, I really love how the relationship we’ve built with David Douglas High School continues, and grows.”

It’s a great way for neighbors to meet neighbors, to be outdoors, and to develop a relationship with trees, Land went on. “Yes, it may sound funny, but especially in Portland, where homeowners are responsible for their own street trees, it’s a great way to start the initial stewardship Project.

“You relate to your tree from the day you planted,” observed Land. “If you help plant your tree, you are more likely to pay attention to it, starting a growing relationship.”

At another property, this crew – including volunteer team leader Mike Ablutz, along with Dana Hinger and Madisen Alverez – say they don’t mind “getting dirty” to help plant trees.

Homeowners Elizabeth Larsen and Jane Aukshunas, who were among those in the Wilkes Community Group having a tree planted, watched – and helped out.

“I thought having a shaded front yard would help us not need to water the lawn so much,” Jane Aukshunas said. “And, I think it’s wonderful to see high school kids here, during these public service activities.”

To learn more about Friends of Trees, see their official website: CLICK HERE

> On our Front Page: David Douglas High School student Sulequa Robow smiles as she helps plant another tree.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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