Friends of Trees helps Vancouver reach its goal of planting 1,500 new trees in 2022

Downtown Vancouver got a little greener on Saturday as Friends of Trees volunteers spent the morning planting more than 75 trees in yards across the region.

Tree lovers sipped coffee and ate bagels before loading oaks, firs, cedars, ginkgos, figs, dogwoods, maples and a variety of other trees and shrubs onto pickup trucks at Evergreen Bible Church for distribution to customers.

The Vancouver event was one of four in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday. Events also took place in Beaverton, Salem and Bethany, Ore.

Friends of Trees communications manager Colin May said the organization is very busy.

“Our planting season is from October to April,” May said. “Apart from the holidays, we go there every weekend. … We have a lot of enthusiastic volunteers and certainly a lot of people who want trees.

Ten groups were assigned to different neighborhoods in the region. Each was responsible for several trees.

Some of the people who wanted trees also volunteered to help plant them. Bradley and Sunny Wonder – along with their children Coraline, 8, and Mazlo, 6 – helped plant several trees in the ground before planting a Lattarula fig tree and strawberry tree in their own backyard. Sunny Wonder said this is the fourth time they have volunteered with Friends of Trees in recent years.

The Evergreen Bible Church parking lot was nearly full when neighborhood tree specialist Christine Smith called for an informational meeting with group leaders. Volunteers shared last-minute tips for tricky trees and reminded everyone of the event’s COVID precautions — masks, distancing, sanitizer — before disbanding and continuing with preparations.

Vancouver’s Laura Deal helped Sam Erman, business and corporate relations specialist at Friends of Trees, load a bright red van with nine trees and a pile of shovels, rakes and stakes.

Deal said this was her second time volunteering.

“I have worked on environmental and climate change issues for six years,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of political, research and communications work, but it was time to get my hands dirty and plant trees in the ground.”

Erman said that, like Deal, he spent time doing climate change advocacy work before deciding to start planting trees.

“That was my introduction to a career in tree planting,” he said. “I work in development now, but I was a contractor for a long time. Friends of Trees was my bridge to the world of tree planting.

One of the partners for Saturday’s planting event was the Portland Timbers and their “Score a Goal, Plant a Tree” program. Through the partnership, each tree planted received a Timbers tag on a piece of backing string containing information about a goal scored during the 2021 season.

Once the trucks were loaded, all the volunteers were brought together for the final instructions and the departure of staff and local elected officials.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle told the crowd that she and her husband started planting trees in Vancouver 30 years ago and it was lovely to see such enthusiasm for trees.

“Our goal this year is to plant 1,500 trees in the ground,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “That’s why we’ve been ‘Tree City, USA’ for over 25 years.”

Ian Bonham, senior tree specialist at Friends of Trees, said the organization has planted nearly a million trees and shrubs in the Pacific Northwest since its founding in 1989.

“Without all of you, we’re just a bunch of trees in a parking lot,” Bonham told the volunteers.

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