Volunteers depave and plant in Eugene!

By Jennifer Killian

Some of the heaviest concrete we saw that day! Photo: James Rexroad

Last Saturday, Friends of Trees partnered with Lane Transit District to create room for new trees by removing over 22 tons of concrete in our season kickoff event! It was a chilly start to the beautiful clear autumn morning as eager volunteers gathered around the Friends of Trees canopy, gazing at a street that was about to be completely transformed. In three hours, more than 45 volunteers removed over 45,000 lbs of concrete, tilled the soil to prepare it for planting, and cleaned up the worksite. Volunteers also assisted members of the community who came and hauled the concrete away by the truckload for their own home and garden projects. Happily, 100 percent of the concrete squares were recycled! This week, additional soil will be added to the tree wells.  On December 6, Friends of Trees volunteers will plant more than 50 trees in the area, including the eight trees on Almaden. With support from LTD, this year FOT is making a special effort to increase tree canopy in the low canopy section between 5th and 8th Avenues and Garfield and Chambers Streets in Eugene.

The depave project marked the beginning of FOT’s efforts to increase tree canopy west of downtown Eugene. In addition to the December planting, later plantings in Whiteaker and Jefferson Westside neighborhoods will also increase canopy in this high-need area. Most of the trees will be planted at sites with wide planting strips, no overhead lines, and river loam soil, so the trees can be large and long-lived to provide community benefits for years. This past summer, FOT staff scouted the area between 5th and 8th Avenues for sites with wide planting strips and opportunities for concrete removal. The Almaden Street site was ideal, and the adjoining property owners were very supportive. With help and permission from the City of Eugene, FOT staff marked seven large sections of sidewalk for concrete removal. The wells were then cut by American Concrete Cutting into 732 individual 12-by-12-inch sections that ranged in thickness from 3 to 7 inches. At FOT’s Saturday event, volunteers used pry bars and some serious muscles to carefully lift each piece of concrete from the well.

You make it look so easy! Lifting concrete with pry bars. Photo: James Rexroad

This project could not have been completed without the generous funding and support of Lane Transit District. Friend of Trees would also like to sincerely thank Depave for the use of their tools and advice. Additionally, a huge thank you goes out to Lane Forest Products, Buck’s Sanitary Service, New Day Bakery, and James Rexroad Photography for discounted products and services. Of course, a very special thank you goes out to all of the volunteers who came out that day. We couldn’t do this great work without you!

– Jennifer is the Volunteer & Neighborhood Trees Specialist with Friends of Trees in Eugene