The man who has planted 3,000 trees (give or take)
Doug Trotter is kind of famous around here.
His time planting with Friends of Trees predates most of our staff, and he’s planted literally thousands of trees around Portland as a volunteer crew leader. If you are lucky enough to have him lead your planting crew, ask him about one of his many skills—brewing beer, building neighborhood poetry boxes, and of course, caring for trees.
How’d you get into trees?
I was born in Illinois, and we also lived all around the Pacific Northwest. Everywhere we lived, my dad would plant trees. They kind of grew on me, and I turned that fascination into a lifelong love. I graduated from Oregon State in the 1970s in forest management. Later in life I became a certified arborist. Now I’m doing other things, but I’d say trees have been the focus of my life and still are.
When did you start volunteering with Friends of Trees?
I volunteered with a similar organization in Seattle, so when we moved down here in 1995, I called Friends of Trees and said I’d like to volunteer. There were fewer volunteers then. By my third or fourth planting, I had already become a crew leader. I thought, wow, I moved up fast!
How many trees have you planted?
I never kept a running tally but I can estimate the number is in the 2,000-3,000 area. Let’s just say it has been quite a few!
Sometimes I’ll drive around Portland and see trees I planted. They look a lot different now than when I planted them 15-20 years ago. There’s great satisfaction that they’ll be there long after me, still living and growing and giving back to the community.
What do you think would surprise people about plantings?
When neighbors come out for plantings, they get to talking. Maybe they lived side-by-side and never met before, and they make this connection through trees. That’s a gratifying thing for me, and I think for them too.
How has Friends of Trees changed in the years since you started volunteering?
They’ve become a fine-tuned well-oiled machine. My first time volunteering, we planted maybe 40 or 50 trees with a few crews. Now they plant 400 or 500 trees in a weekend. They also added the natural area teams (Green Space Initiative).
A tree is kind of a big deal because…
Because they’re a real wonder of life. They’re some of the largest organisms on earth, and some of the most beautiful organisms on earth. They’re living miracles to me.