A Unique Partnership in the Tualatin River Watershed
You can’t have clean water without trees. One of our oldest partnerships is with Clean Water Services, a water resource management utility that recognizes the importance of trees to watershed health. For over two decades, Clean Water Services has worked with Friends of Trees on planting events throughout Washington County, from Beaverton and Tigard to Forest Grove and Banks.
“It’s a unique partnership,” says Michelle Yasutake, the Green Space Program Manager at Friends of Trees. “To be working with a single entity that connects us to so many municipalities.”
“Friends of Trees is hugely important in our efforts to engage with the community,” says Randy Lawrence, Project Manager at Clean Water Services’ Natural Systems Enhancement & Stewardship Department. “To fulfill our investment in green infrastructure, we need community investment. We need to get their point of view.”
Clean Water Services plants trees as part of the Tree For All campaign, which has planted more than ten million native plants in the Tualatin River Watershed since 2005.
“Rather than just contracting the work out, Clean Water Services works with us to bring community engagement,” says Michelle. “And the community wants to be able to contribute and participate.”
In addition to working in public spaces, Clean Water Services has also connected Friend of Trees to private landowners through homeowners associations. Working with HOAs is important to connecting corridors of canopy where there would otherwise be gaps.
Clean Water Services has also facilitated our collaboration with groups like the Cascade Education Corps, which connects underserved youth with environmental stewardship work, and the Salmonberry Trail project, where we rescued native plants from a future recreational trail site.
“We want to make sure that who we engage with is reflective of the entire community,” Randy says. Both Friends of Trees and Clean Water Services want to continue to expand on efforts toward equity, diversity, and inclusion in the partnership moving forward.
Combined, our efforts are greater than the sum of their parts. “Working together, the scope of our projects is bigger and better,” Randy says. “And community buy-in is bigger and better.”