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200 trees and counting

Tree City -- Forest Grove's Neighborwoods program marks a milestone, with the aid of a motorized auger

Forest Grove is a town that gets its height from its trees, not its buildings. White Oaks, Giant Sequoias, and Bigleaf Maples tower over roof tops everywhere, even in its business district.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, members of Forest Grove's Community Forestry Commission rolled up their sleeves and added 11 new trees to the city's urban forest landscape. The trees, ranging in species from Dogwood to Ash, were planted at six different residences across the city.

'This planting project was particularly special, as it marked the installation of the 200th tree in the Neighborwoods Program since it was launched in 1995,' said Kerstin Cathcart, the city's senior planner.

Through a city beautification grant, Forest Grove's Neighborwoods Program enables home and business owners to establish trees in the public right-of-way median strip that runs in front of their property, at a fraction of the cost of other tree-planting services.

For a $15 fee, volunteers from the community forestry commission deliver and plant the trees of the property owner's choice in the city right-of-way. All the property owner has to do is submit an application to the city, and agree to take responsibility for the care of the tree once it's been planted.

In past years, the home or business owner had to prepare the planting sites for their trees. Planting got easier this year, as Dale Wiley - local nursery owner and a forestry commission member - donated the use of a motorized auger, making planting a breeze.

'Homeowners were delighted to see the immediate change to their yards made by the eight- to 10-foot trees,' said Stephanie Beall, commission chairwoman.

'It's wonderful, just wonderful,' echoed homeowner Dale Feik, referencing the two new Golden Desert Ash trees that graced his curbside landscaping within 20 minutes of their delivery.

Feik, like all the Neighborwoods participants, was asked to let his friends and neighbors know about the tree-planting program.

'Trees are a vital part of Forest Grove's community identity,' said Beall, who added that the commission hopes to pick up the pace of tree planting next year. 'We want to keep the forest in Forest Grove.'