Friends of Trees

February 2022: Rails-to-Trails Tree Rescue | 20 Years in Wilsonville | The Value of Oaks

TREEMAIL: News from Friends of Trees


Rescuing native plants along the new Salmonberry Trail project

Usually Friends of Trees volunteers are tasked with planting trees, but last weekend in Banks, they got to rescue them! Volunteers worked on a stretch of railway that will become the Salmonberry Trail in coming years.

Because the railway isn’t used anymore, native trees have sprouted among the tracks. Working along the scenic West Fork Dairy Creek, volunteers gently dug up knee-high bigleaf maple and Douglas-fir saplings, then soaked them in water and stored them in bare-root bags.

This Salmonberry rails-to-trails project will create a new 86-mile mixed-use path for walkers, runners and bikers. Thanks to the hard work of 52 volunteers, 375 bigleaf maples and 100 Douglas-firs were rescued from the tracks and are ready to be planted elsewhere in the Tualatin River Watershed.

Along with The Salmonberry Foundation and Friends of Stub Stewart State Park, our longtime partner Clean Water Services proposed this tree rescue event as a fun way to engage folks in the Banks community with our work. Rescuing plants isn’t typical for Friends of Trees, but the nature and scale of this specific project made it a good fit for volunteers. Learn more.


We love oaks and you should too!

At Friends of Trees, we are particularly fond of oak trees, so much so that our mascot is Garry Oak. For our tree experts, it’s a go-to tree for reasons that go beyond its iconic nature.

“As a species, they are an effective resource against climate change,” says Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Drew Land. A recent study published in Tree Physiology found that when mature oak trees were bathed in levels of CO2 equivalent to what is expected in 2050, the trees increased their rate of photosynthesis up to a third in response.

Oak trees are also exceptional providers to their ecological community, from contributing to the food web to managing the watershed to storing carbon. “You plant an oak in your yard, you’re planting a zoo,” says Douglas W. Tallamy, author of The Nature of Oaks.

Learn more about why you should consider oaks for your own yard.

The Eugene Branch

Walking the Talk in their own Backyard

A year ago, if you were to look out the back window of the Friends of Trees office in Eugene, you might look past the small backyard and see nearly a block of impermeable surfaces, power lines, parking lots and buildings. But our staff saw an opportunity, and went about converting their backyard into an oasis of nature.

“It’s the only green patch in a sea of concrete,” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. “We wanted to make the most of it.” So they pulled away all the grass and weeds, put down cardboard and mulch, and put in a variety of native, drought tolerant, and pollinator friendly plants.

Now the office’s backyard has grown into a beautiful native plant garden, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, and giving our staff a daily dose of inspiration. “We try to walk the talk,” says Volunteer & Program Specialist Taylor Glass.

Learn more about the Eugene Branch’s backyard transformation.

20 Years in Wilsonville

FOT started planting in Memorial Park in 2002

The morning sun shined on the volunteers at Memorial Park during our February planting in Wilsonville. It was a special day at a familiar spot, because this planting marked the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Friends of Trees and the City of Wilsonville.

In 2002, the City of Wilsonville and Friends of Trees partnered to create native plant communities in Memorial Park. Since then, volunteers have installed thousands of native plants, shrubs and trees, reestablishing forest areas and protecting riparian zones in Wilsonville’s oldest and largest park.

“What a great day to plant,” says Michelle Yasutake, the Green Space Program Manager at Friends of Trees. “We added over 1,000 plants! It’s an awesome way to celebrate this partnership where it all started.” The newly planted native shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns will contribute to the legacy that began two decades ago, and has expanded into neighborhoods throughout Wilsonville. Learn more.

An Oaky Business Partnership!

Whiskey is another reason to celebrate the oak, and we’ve got a way to celebrate it! Of course you can’t age whiskey without oak barrels, so some local businesses are giving back to the trees.

Multnomah Whiskey Library & Noble Oak are donating $2 per seasonal cocktail sold through the end of March at Multnomah Whiskey Library’s ground-level bar, The Green Room, to yours truly for more trees + community.

Get Involved

It’s our 33rd season of planting and caring for trees – JOIN US!

Here are some upcoming volunteer events:

  • March 19, Neighborhood planting, Gresham
  • March 19, Natural area planting, Lower Gales Creek, Forest Grove
  • March 26, Natural area planting, Summer Creek, Tigard

We have plenty of other events going on as we continue our busy planting season! Register to volunteer here for Portland Metro area events, and check out the Eugene event calendar here. We can’t wait to plant trees with you!

Our events are modified as part of our COVID response to ensure they are as safe and healthy as possible, more information is here.



Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the world around them through a simple solution: Planting Trees. Together.

(503) 282-8846: Portland office

(541) 632-3683: Eugene office

Learn more about how Friends of Trees greens our region + grows community through checking out other issues of Treemail here