Welcoming the return of the sun … with trees

“Each Friends of Trees planting event is a series of moments, whether it’s somebody seeing a lizard, or a kid planting their first tree, or people who just happened to be walking by pitching in to help. One of the best moments is at the end of the day when everyone has a big smile on their face because they’ve really accomplished something: they planted trees.” Matt, Friends of Trees volunteer

     Did you know that the oldest tree in the world is 5,062 years old? It’s a Pinus longaeva (Great Basin bristlecone pine) and it’s in California.

     While we can’t claim with certainty that Friends of Trees just planted the newest tree in the world, it is possible, at least for a moment on any given Saturday, October-April, that we did indeed just plant the newest tree in the world. That’s another Friends of Trees moment: adding a tree–to our region, to our planet. And there are more than 50,000 moments like that every tree planting season.

     As we celebrate the Winter Solstice and welcome the return of the sun we’re thinking about the various ways the shortest day of the year is celebrated, especially, of course, the celebrations that include trees. We’ve learned that some Winter Solstice celebrations include specific trees that have specific meanings; for instance, for some observants evergreens symbolize continuity of life, and oak trees symbolize endurance, strength, protection, and good luck.

     We love this. Here’s how Friends of Trees interprets these special meanings of evergreens and oaks:

Continuity of lifetrees provide oxygen!

Endurance, strengthtrees can live to be hundreds, thousands of years old.

Protectiontrees clean our air and water and help make us healthy.

Good luckto me, it’s clear: the more trees we have, the luckier we are.

     A recent paper by U.S. Forest Service scientists* reported that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing more than 30 million trees each year. This is tragic, but thanks to Friends of Trees’ friends and supporters, we’re not fretting, we’re taking action and tackling this loss, together, one moment at a time, one tree at a time – at more than 50,000 moments, and 50,000 trees, every year. You can help us take positive action through making a donation to Friends of Trees today! Your support helps grow our urban canopy, restore sensitive natural areas, and helps build community through planting trees – together.

     Happy Solstice to you and yours, we  look forward to longer days, the return of the sun, and more trees – join us!

Fernhill Wetlands is a happening place

By Kris Day

Friends of Trees — in partnership with Clean Water Services, the Friends of Fernhill Wetlands and the Fernhill Wetlands Council — is proud to help plant the newly-developed landscaped areas and constructed wetlands at Fernhill Wetlands this season with the help of dozens of volunteers at two public restoration planting events. Fernhill Wetlands is a 748-acre site near the confluence of Gales Creek and the Tualatin River.

In 2012, Clean Water Services began construction of a Natural Treatment System around these wetlands to further clean and acclimate treated water before allowing it to rejoin the Tualatin River. This sustainable approach to treating wastewater will not only save rate payer dollars, but it will also improve the ecology of the wetlands for better wildlife habitat. When finished, this innovative, bio-engineered system will encompass 90 acres of flow through ponds, streams, wetlands, and substrate.

A new partnership begins!

On November 16, 2013, Friends of Trees and the Friends of Fernhill Wetlands organized the first restoration event and planted 410 native trees and shrubs focused around the recently completed parking area directly bordering the wetlands. In two weeks – Saturday, February 22 – we’ll be organizing another restoration event to plant native trees and shrubs and we’d love to have your help!

This event will start promptly at 9:00am, so be sure to get there a few minutes early to sign in and enjoy some hot beverages, pastries, and donuts. Friends of Trees provides the gloves, tools, and trained volunteer guidance, so all you need to do is dress appropriately for the weather and be wearing sturdy shoes. Please meet at 1365 SW Fern Hill Road in Forest Grove (map) and look for the Friends of Trees signs and white canopy to guide you to the staging site. The planting will be wrapped up no later than 1:00pm.

Blue heron hunting at dusk

As always, there will be abundant opportunities to see a diversity of waterfowl, raptors, and migratory birds, so consider bringing your binoculars for some pre- and/or post-planting bird watching. This event will also provide a great opportunity for folks to become more familiar with the newly built features at Fernhill. You can learn more about Fernhill’s Natural Treatment System HERE. And if you’d like to get more involved in stewardship activities in this quickly evolving landscape visit the Friends of Fernhill Facebook page or email them at [email protected]

We hope you can join us on Saturday, February 22 to help with the next stage of this developing partnership and project site!

– Kris is the Green Space Initiative Senior Specialist with Friends of Trees.