Friends of Trees to the Rescue!

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, part of a route once home to the Pacific Railway and Navigation rail line, 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 set about rescuing them by safely digging up knee-high bigleaf maple and Douglas-fir saplings, soaking them in water and storing them in bare-root bags. They used special de-rooter tools for the most obstinate trees.

“We’ve been out here for a couple years now, leading work parties,” says John Vogler of the Salmonberry Foundation to volunteers. “Next year, we will clear this whole section with big machines, so any trees that we can salvage is great. It’s a big task, and you’re part of the very beginning of this 86 mile trail to the coast.”

This rails-to-trails project will create a new 86-mile mixed-use path for walkers, runners and cyclists. The Salmonberry Trail will also connect to the existing Banks-Vernonia Trail to create a loop.

This event came to us thanks to our longtime partner Clean Water Services, whose Tree for All campaign has planted more than 14 million trees and shrubs in Washington County. They 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.

With their hard work, volunteers rescued 375 bigleaf maples and 100 Douglas-firs from the tracks. They were safely stored by Clean Water Services in their cooler until they were planted elsewhere in the Tualatin River Watershed. The Doug-firs went to a Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District project along East Fork Dairy Creek.  The maples were planted at the Penstemon Natural Area on the Tualatin River near Forest Grove, and at Rivers Bend Natural Area on the Tualatin River near the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

Volunteers also cleared a quarter mile of future trail of invasive Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry and 100 pounds of trash.

Volunteers were excited to rescue about 100 more trees to plant at their own homes, including cherries and hazelnuts. “It was fun to come to a different event like this,” said Hannah, a volunteer. “And so great to take a native tree home to plant!”

Thanks to Clean Water Services, The Salmonberry Foundation, and Friends of Stub Stewart State Park & Banks-Vernonia Rails to Trails for partnering with us on this project.