Looking forward to a sunny summer

Remember how the sun makes everything look beautiful?
Remember how the sun makes everything look beautiful? (FoT file)

By Andy Meeks

Last Saturday – the first beautiful day in weeks (and, so far, the last) – Friends of Trees hosted a Summer Festival Volunteer Training at the PCC Cascade campus.  We were thrilled to have nine very enthusiastic people join us to learn about the different Friends of Trees programs, our past achievements and our future goals of growing healthy communities in the Portland-Vancouver region.

Some of many things they learned on Saturday:

  • Friends of Trees planted almost 17,000 trees last season in our Neighborhood Trees and Green Space Initiative programs – over 4,500 of which were large street trees – all of which are loving this rain.
  • The urban canopy in Portland intercepts billions of gallons of stormwater from entering the sewer systems that are already under heavy stress from this month-long deluge.
  • For $35 to $75 – sometimes less – homeowners in Portland can receive an 8- to 12-foot tall tree, including: delivery, hole digging, planting assistance, utility locates, mulch, stakes, and first-year follow-up maintenance checks (approximately a $200 value).
  • Friends of Trees just completed the first year of a three-year partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro, during which community volunteers will plant thousands of trees and shrubs along the I-205 Multi-Use Path from the Columbia River south to the City of Gladstone.

Look for the Friends of Trees’ white canopy at many of this summer’s street fairs, festivals and Sunday Parkways events and you’ll have a chance to meet these Summer Festival Volunteers and many of our staff members and ask how you can get involved – whether by purchasing a tree for your planting strip, volunteering for one of many roles, or participating in our Gift Tree program.

Check out our calendar of events to see where we’ll be.  We look forward to seeing you out there on one of the many sunny days we’ll surely be enjoying soon!

Meeks is the Volunteer & Outreach Specialist for Friends of Trees.

Crew Leader reaches 250 plantings, keeps going

20th Anniversary Party
Neighborhood Trees Manager Whitney Dorer and Conan Harmon-Walker at the Friends of Trees anniversary party Nov. 15. (FOT file)

By Shelli Romero

March 20 marked the fifth in a series of community tree plantings along the I-205 Multi-Use Path. It also marked another milestone: the 249th tree planting at which Conan Harmon-Walker volunteered.

Born and reared in Oregon, Harmon-Walker is a network administrator for Legacy Health Systems and a 14-year volunteer with Friends of Trees. He participates in an abundance of Friends of Trees’ Neighborhood Trees (NT) and Green Space Initiative (GSI) plantings, setting milestone goals as part of his personal commitment to contribute to the community.

NT CL Training: 11.21.09, Sellwood & Brooklyn
Harmon-Walker crew leading at the Nov. 21 NT planting in Sellwood . (FOT file)

“I was an earth science major in the seventies and studied global warming,” he explained. “Planting trees is something I can do that’s local and meaningful.”

On this particular Saturday, beneath the warm rays of the sun at Southeast 95th and Hawthorne in the Montavilla neighborhood, Harmon-Walker helped sign in volunteers and assisted with tree plantings throughout the morning.

Harmon-Walker is a trained Friends of Trees crew leader who has guided hundreds of volunteers throughout the years. The March 20 planting was part of a three-year partnership among Friends of Trees, ODOT and Metro to plant thousands of trees and shrubs along the path, which is used extensively by bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users.

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First day of spring with the I-205 project

GSI Planting 03.20.10, I-205 Multi-Use Path Planting - young planters
Young planters take a break Saturday on the slope where trees were planted along the I-205 Multi-Use Path. (FOT file)

By Teri Ruch

Volunteers at the March 20 Friends of Trees planting along the I-205 corridor in Southeast Portland ranged from toddlers to retirees. They came from diverse backgrounds and groups, including nonprofits, regional and statewide agencies, nearby neighborhoods, high schools, and local businesses.

But all agreed on two things: Planting trees is good; and planting trees on a sunny first day of spring is even better.

“The variety of people and organizations involved is tremendous,” said Metro Council President David Bragdon as he paused next to a tree that he was about to haul up the slope to plant. Surveying the bustling volunteers from Friends of Trees, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) and elsewhere, he said, “When you put all those efforts together, you get a great result.”

GSI Planting 03.20.10, I-205 Multi-Use Path Planting - Metro Council President David Bragdon
Metro Council President David Bragdon, center with hat, spoke at Saturday's I-205 planting and stuck around to help. (FOT file)

The March 20 Green Space Initiative planting was part of a three-year project to green the 16.5-mile I-205 Multi-Use Path, which is funded by a $410,000 grant from Metro’s 2006 voter-approved Natural Areas bond measure. “What we look for is partnerships,” said Bragdon, “and projects that create lots of volunteer engagement and community ownership.”

The I-205 greening project, which involves a partnership between Friends of Trees and ODOT, is also funded by an $80,000 grant from the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) and by Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and local businesses, including Cantel Sweeping and Collier Arbor Care who sponsored the day’s event.

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Bicycling for the love of trees and water

NT Planting: 03.06.10, Montavilla & Mt. Tabor
Tree, stakes, mulch, tools and even his son Rhys fit into Richard Greensted's bike cart Saturday at the Neighborhood Trees planting. (Renee Garrels)

By Teri Ruch

Mix about 20 bicycles, a dozen carts and trailers, 190 big trees, planting tools, the perfect pre-spring morning and 75 volunteers—from babies to boomers—and what do you get?

A fun planting day that ended with a community potluck and new trees to clean our rivers, add shade to neighborhoods, and make our air healthier. Forty of the 190 trees planted Saturday, many weighing 200 pounds each, were carried by bicycle along with tools, stakes and mulch.

“It shows that Portland is a great city when people roll up their sleeves to plant trees together,” City Commissioner Dan Saltzman told Friends of Trees volunteers before they set out in teams to plant. “You are in the frontline of the effort to clean our rivers. We need trees to keep stormwater out of our sewer system.”

The Friends of Trees planting in the Montavilla and Mt. Tabor neighborhoods was part of two Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) efforts to curb stormwater runoff: the Tabor to the River project, with a goal to improve the Brooklyn Creek Basin from Mt. Tabor to the Willamette using sewer enhancements, green stormwater management and tree plantings; and the five-year Grey to Green Initiative (G2G), launched last year to green the city’s greyscape by adding more ecoroofs, bioswales, restored natural areas and trees.

As a partner in G2G, Friends of Trees is helping the city reach its goal of planting 83,000 street and yard trees in five years. Last year the nonprofit planted more street and yard trees than in any previous year of its 20-year history, and this year Friends of Trees hopes to double that number.

NT Planting: 03.06.10, Montavilla & Mt. Tabor
From left, Naomi Tsurumi of BES, Commissioner Saltzman, Nancy Buley of J. Frank Schmidt Nursery, and Friends of Trees Executive Director Scott Fogarty. (FOT file)

Friends of Trees’ model offers homeowners both quality trees at affordable prices and organized community plantings, which give people a vested interest in their trees and ensures that two things grow at the same time: the city’s tree cover and its corps of tree-planting citizens.

Friends of Trees Executive Director Scott Fogarty emphasized this point when he told the planting volunteers on March 6, “You’re making a statement today by planting trees for the greater good.”

Friends of Trees board member Nancy Buley, who directs marketing for J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., which sponsored Saturday’s planting, encouraged the planters to “pick up a pen” as well as a shovel. She’s been advocating in D.C. for more funding for trees. “We need to get political about trees,” she said.

Some of the younger planters, however, seemed happy just to be outside planting.

“Rhys and I had an amazing day,” said Richard Greensted, who carried mulch, stakes, tools and his son Rhys by bicycle to the places where his bike team planted.

“Spending quality time with my son, getting some exercise, and helping keep our rivers clean—what a great way to spend a day,” he said. “Before I had a chance to ask Rhys what he thought about the tree planting, he was asking me about when the next planting was!”

–Ruch is the communications director for Friends of Trees: [email protected]; 503-282-8846 ext. 17

Next generation street trees live in swales

Street swales, like this one on Southeast Division, have been going in for several years all over Portland. (sierraclub.org)
Street swales, like this one on Southeast Division, have been going in for several years all over Portland. (sierraclub.org)

It has been a few years now and Portland continues to develop its infrastructure of street swales and curb extensions.

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) developed and is implementing these runoff-collecting tools along Portland’s streets in an effort to keep the Willamette River cleaner.

Runoff collects in a swale in the Hollywood District. (The Oregonian)
Runoff collects in a swale in the Hollywood District. (The Oregonian)

Street swales and curb extensions are also the next generation of street tree planters, combining both the tree-planting and storm water initiatives of the city’s Grey to Green (G2G) initiative.

On Southeast Ankeny Street—the popular east-west bike avenue—BES is about to finish the Oak B Sewer Project, which saw Queen Elizabeth Hedge Maples, American Hornbeams and Black Tupelos planted in the next generation planters.

The bureau works off of an approved tree list when planting in swales or extensions, but everything’s on a trial basis, said Jeremy Person of BES who worked on the sewer project.

“We’ve been doing sewer pipes for 100 years now,” said Person, “We’ve been doing swales—big time—for maybe two, three years now.”

What types of trees do you think would be best for Portland urban street swales or curb extensions?

–Toshio Suzuki