Lots of shade installed by Friends of Trees in outer east Portland

INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE VIDEO | In the Centennial, Powellhurst, Gilbert, Lents, and Pleasant Valley neighborhoods, a total of 70 new trees stand in homeowner’s yards; see how and why …

Volunteers sign in early on this Friends of Trees work day, ready to plant trees across the southern half of outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On the crisp, cool Saturday morning of January 22, 83 volunteers gathered in the parking lots of the Lents Church of God, located at the corner of SE 122nd Avenue and Harold Street. Another Friends of Trees (FoT) planting day was beginning. The organization is , now in its 33rd season of greening up all areas of Portland.

Before the volunteers assembled, some had helped load trucks with trees while FoT Team Leaders gathered for a meeting.

FoT Crew Leaders and volunteers check off the trees they’re to load into trucks.

Answering a volunteer’s question, here’s FoT Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Andrew “Drew” Land.

The COVID-19 pandemic fid change Friends of Trees planting plans, but didn’t halt them, commented FoT Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Andrew “Drew” Land.

“Fortunately, we’ve found that – when masked and vaccinated, and because we’re outdoors – that both our planting and pruning events can be done very safely,” Land told East Portland News.

“However, it is unfortunate that having the ‘community building’ part of these projects – the hosting of fantastic pre- and post-event meals together, that we’ve all come to love – simply hasn’t been realistic.”

Volunteers listen to a briefing about the day’s activities.

All the volunteers, including Crew Leaders, came together for an orientation presented by Land, before they headed out.

In that orientation, he explained, “We do this because we recognize that the trees we’re planting are an asset to our community. Trees are green infrastructure; trees are ‘air filters’, ‘water filters’ – and so, they are part of the public health infrastructure as well.

“This benefit expands exponentially as the trees grow – so, as the trees mature, they are some of the best infrastructure that we have!

Drew Land tells about the benefits of trees to city infrastructure.

“In all, we will be planting 23 different species. Diversity in nature provides resilience,” Land explained. “If some future pest or disease attacks some the species we are planting today, we still will have many others that will help keep us healthy. The wide variety also offers a nice array of spring flowers and fall colors; and some are evergreens. Diversity is really important in an urban forest!”

See what it’s like to join in with Friends of Trees
volunteers, during one of their ‘Tree Planting Days’. Watch this:

Finally, Land thanked the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services which deeply subsidizes the cost of the trees; commended their business sponsors; and honored the neighborhood association leaders who had come to support the effort.

Volunteers then headed out with their team and began planting a total of 70 trees across the region.

Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbor grateful for new tree

Crew Leader Timbo DeSosa and arborist Jeff Moore of Urban Forestry Professionals adjust the size of the hole into which a new tree will be planted.

The first stop for “Crew E” wasn’t far from the rallying point; it was a front yard in the 12000 block of SE Harold Street.

Volunteers were planting a Nyssa sylvatica (Black Tupelo), a hearty, drought-resistant tree. The crew struggled through the “Missoula Flood smooth river rock” that covers much of outer East Portland, making the hole the right diameter and depth.

Because the property sloped downward from the street toward the house, the Crew Leaders were careful not to plant the root ball too deeply. Instead they did cover it up and then surrounded it with a dirt berm.

Looking at her new tree, about to get its new “lifetime home”, is the recipient –Susannah Lightbourne.

“We had a nuisance tree – a ‘Tree of Heaven’ – and took it out,” recounted the homeowner recipient, Susannah Lightbourne as she watched the volunteers plant her new tree.

“When we were younger, we often volunteered with Friends of Trees ourselves, so we looked to them for our new tree,” Lightbourne remarked. “It’s fun to see all this going on here; it makes for a really good neighborhood feeling.”

The organization’s planting day for the northern section of outer East Portland is set for late in February, however, that planting is already fully-subscribed with volunteers.

To learn more about Friend of Trees, a 501c(3) nonprofit public organization, visit their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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