Earth Day turned 50 this year. It’s the 148th Arbor Day (in this country; the first documented arbor plantation festival in the world was in Spain in 1594!). Typically we’d celebrate these occasions doing our favorite thing: Planting trees. With you.
Though apart, we still want to revel in trees + community with you. You can enjoy some trees in this playlist of homemade Tree Team tree videos, and you can join us right now on a virtual visit to Mitchell Creek, one of our last event sites before Stay Home, Stay Healthy kicked in.
The above photo of Mitchell Creek was taken by Green Space Tree Team member Hanna Dornhofer, who led the March 7 planting event. Hanna shares,
“I took this photo when I was leaving the site, after wrapping up the planting event. I was feeling awed by the beauty of the forest and energized by all the volunteers I had met.
“The Friends of Trees planting site is slightly upstream of where the photo was taken, so you can’t actually see any of the freshly planted plants in the photo. But that doesn’t matter since anything planted along that creek will affect the health of the entire creek!”
The Mitchell Creek planting site is an old farmstead property in Clackamas County acquired by Portland Parks & Recreation (the site is off to the right of the creek in the above photo). It’s adjacent to a Metro property that is a mature, healthy forest (to the left of the creek). The goal of the project, which builds on a previous Friends of Trees planting effort in 2011, is to get the PP&R property to look like the Metro property.
Mitchell Creek Natural Area consists of about 70 acres and hosts a mixed conifer-deciduous forest dominated by Douglas-fir on the upper slopes and Western red cedar in the creek bottom, with areas of black cottonwood and big leaf maple. Northern Pacific tree frog has been documented on the site and coyote, pileated woodpecker, and Pacific giant salamander have reportedly been seen as well. Cutthroat trout have been seen in Mitchell Creek below the property.
This project seeks to increase plant diversity and structural complexity within the forest areas along Mitchell Creek, a tributary of Johnson Creek. Within the riparian area, increased native vegetation will help to reduce creek temperatures by increasing shade, reducing erosion, and ultimately increasing the availability of woody debris in the stream as the plants mature. Woody debris and cool, clear water are vital for the health of wildlife in the stream, such as macroinvertebrates (think crayfish, snails, and dragonflies) and fish, like salmon. Did you know woody debris in the stream serves as an important hiding spot for young fish?
At our March 7 planting event 69 volunteers planted 1,000 native trees and shrubs. Plants installed that day include vine maple, big leaf maple, serviceberry, tall Oregon grape, osoberry, cascara, red flowering currant, Western hemlock … and more!
Friends of Trees will always strive to be a welcoming and safe place for everyone, regardless of age, ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views or economic status. Without our volunteers, we are nothing. But together we do amazing things.
–This statement is included at the beginning of all Friends of Trees public planting events
In the seven weeks since we last planted trees with our community we’ve done a little reminiscing about our volunteers, and also about our programming that engages SO MANY amazing individuals on behalf of trees + community.
How do we get thousands of people, every season, to get up early on a Saturday to venture out into rainy, snowy, gray conditions so they can end up covered in mud? We start with spreading the word, through attending street fairs, school functions, employee events. Our three person team communicates with email (3,500 email messages every season!); hundreds of online posts; postcards; and social media through our friends and partners.
We train leaders. Volunteers come with all levels of experience, or none at all. We have 600 trained Crew Leaders who teach the 1-2-3s of tree-planting and are with planting volunteers at all times, ensuring successful, fun planting experiences.
We enjoy the company of more than 6,000 individual volunteers every season, who donate their time in in 16 different volunteer roles. That’s incredible. Even more incredible? More than 4,000 of you come back again and again, every year. We know that part of the reason is people just love to be outside, making a difference planting trees. We also know that our team strives to be magnanimous, kind, and enthusiastic with every communication, with every engagement. Your time and energy is a valuable gift – we know that and want to get you engaged with our programming as quickly and easily as possible!
Jenny Bedell-Stiles, Volunteer & Outreach Manager (far right, green Tree Team tee), sets the tone of love and appreciation that makes Friends of Trees’ volunteer program so special. Jenny shares, “Friends of Trees is a unique and blessed place to work as a volunteer manager. It’s a privilege to work for a group like FOT that puts people first and sees community building as the foundation of our mission.”
Volunteer & Outreach Specialist Pablo Brito (seated in front of the group who just trained as FOT Ambassadors) does a bit of everything. Coordinating groups, managing interns, juggling projects, making guests and volunteers feel welcome and valued … he’s like the concierge & more of VOP!
Carey Aroonsuck, Volunteer & Operations Administrator (left, enjoying some special attention from her Tree Team colleague Litzy Venturi), brings games, glitter and all sorts of creativity to Friends of Trees’ volunteer program. If you’ve ever had your nametag bedazzled at an FOT event you have Carey to thank for that!
At Friends of Trees, volunteers are the center of our values and mission, not something on the periphery: We put people first. And this isn’t just lip service. All our staff, not just our volunteer managers, work with volunteers and have sky-high respect for what you contribute. Just as important as planting trees is strengthening a community that learns together and treats each other well.
There’s nothing like working with a group of people to make a tangible difference. It just feels good, and the trees are a visible and satisfying sign of what you accomplished in a few short hours. When it’s safe to gather together again we can’t wait to get back to planting together!
Yes, we had to cut our season a bit short but the Eugene Tree Team still managed to plant 650 trees and native shrubs and 500 wildflowers with more than 600 volunteers this season! Thank you Eugene community for once again coming through to green our region & grow community.
We’re excited to share some upcoming Eugene Tree Team activities and opportunities with you:
The above photo at a planting event on the South Beltline captures the entire Eugene Tree Team, with a special guest! From left: Becca Snowdale, Volunteer and Planting Specialist; Jeff Lanza, Planting Program Manager; Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis; Erik Burke, Eugene Director; Taylor Glass Volunteer and Planting Specialist.
We had an incredible Earth Day Party with the Tree Team!Our daylong virtual celebration featuring tree talk, LIVE tree walks and more made a virtual Earth Day seem, well, tree-filled.THANK YOU to everyone who donated on Earth Day – we met our match!All donations help ensure a future with trees + community.
Friends of Trees and The Nature Conservancy are working together to plant more trees in our region, focusing on lower canopy, historically under-served neighborhoods. This collaboration is a fun way to celebrate urban trees while making a tangible difference in our community. Visit yaytrees.org to learn more and to join us.
While you’re Staying Home and Staying Healthy you can still get involved!
Take notice of trees on your social distancing walks. Viewing trees can help ease stress; plus, since it’s spring, there is so much to notice now: new leaves, flowers, visiting pollinators, beauty!
Stay connected through social media. We’d love to see your photos of newly planted Friends of Trees’ trees in your neighborhood, or you sporting your FOT shirt on a walk or with your favorite tree in your neighborhood!