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Theres still time to order your own street tree

by: Merry MacKinnon Noah Jenkins of Sellwood, who works with Friends of Trees and for the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, has big leafy plans in November for this planting strip.

When Sellwood resident Noah Jenkins talks about an upcoming neighborhood street tree planting event, he's quick to point out that the new trees will be placed in the 'planting strips' next to the curb.

A planting strip is what some call a parking strip - generally the grass-covered area between the sidewalk and the street. And, on November 5, in a partnership of the City of Portland and Friends of Trees, volunteers will spread out in Sellwood and Westmoreland to help plant yard and street trees. Similar plantings are upcoming for Brooklyn and Eastmoreland.

It's part of an ambitious city effort to plant more urban trees. Once established, the trees will sequester rainwater, thereby reducing flows into storm drains during winter deluges, as well as provide other benefits.

'Portland is one of a very few large metropolitan areas in the U.S. that has actually increased its tree canopy, and Friends of Trees is an important part of that,' observes Jenkins, who has volunteered with Friends of Trees ever since he moved here from upstate New York in 1999.

On the day of the upcoming neighborhood planting, under the Friends of Trees campaign slogan 'Plant-It-Portland', Jenkins will be a crew leader in charge of digging the holes, mulching, and staking. He'll be planting two 8- to 12-foot tall cascara saplings in front of the house where he rents an apartment on S.E. Lambert Street, as part of the busy day. He says cascaras are a native flowering species, with berries that attract native birds and insects.

The property owner adjacent to a planting strip is the one who officially requests the tree or trees, and pays the fee - which, in Sellwood and Westmoreland, will be $50 per tree.

Before a homeowner schedules a street tree planting, they select the type of tree they want from a recommended list, approved by the city and provided by Friends of Trees.

After some Douglas firs were cut down on the property where Jenkins lives, it was he who advised the landlord to mitigate that loss with the two cascaras.

'As a resident in the building, I gave some input, hoping to see 'natives' planted,' recalls

Jenkins, whose day job is with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council - as education and research associate. In that role, Jenkins will also be advocating for native plants as the featured speaker on Backyard Habitat at an upcoming meeting of the Brentwood- Darlington Neighborhood Association.

'The City knows that native species are important,' Jenkins remarks, adding that large native evergreens are also included in the available-tree list.

But the list features non-native trees, as well - many of them selected for their hardiness in drought, flood, and cold-snaps.

A century ago, cities primarily planted maples and elms. But then, diseases such as Dutch Elm would wipe out whole canopies. Now, according to Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Specialist Elizabeth Elbel, a diversity of trees is encouraged - not just to reduce loss to communicable disease, but also for adaptability to climate fluctuations.

'We want to diversify, to be ready for different types of climate change,' Elbel says.

The deadline to sign up for Sellwood, Westmoreland, Brooklyn, and Eastmoreland tree plantings is October 3.

For more information, go online to: www.FriendsofTrees.org - or call 503/282-8846, extension 25. 'We'll also work with homeowners on financial support, if they need it," adds Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Manager Whitney Dorer.