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City of West Linn branches out during Arbor Week


West Linn celebrates 20th year as a Tree City USA

by: VERN UYETAKE -  This tree in front of West Linn High School is one of the city's heritage trees. It was planted in 1933. National Arbor Day might fall on April 26 this year, but in West Linn the event is stretched into something much larger.

Five times larger, to be exact.

The city will celebrate Arbor Week from Monday to April 5, with the overarching goal being to plant more trees while educating children and adults alike about the often silent contributions trees make to everyday life.

Boasting a tree canopy that blankets more than 30 percent of its area, West Linn will soon be officially named a part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA community for the 20th time, and will be planting trees all week long to honor that distinction.

“Arbor Week celebrates a West Linn core value,” Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt said. “You can visit any corner of West Linn to see our longstanding commitment to tree planting and preservation.”

This year, Mike Perkins, the city’s arborist, will concentrate on planting three types of trees: the larger western red cedars and Douglas firs, as well as the smaller vine maple for places that might not have the space for something bigger.

“We like to encourage people to plant natives,” Perkins said. “They thrive in our unique climate where we get nine months of pretty steady rain and three months of virtually none.”

For Arbor Week, the city will hold a number of plantings at various parks — one taking place at Marylhurst Heights Park, according to Perkins — and a commemorative Oregon white oak tree will be planted at Hammerle Park, an event tentatively scheduled for April 4.

West Linn High School ecology classes will also plant native trees at the Tualatin Bluff wetlands in the Willamette neighborhood.

“This is the 12th year they have been doing restoration work down there,” Perkins said. “The site is being used as an ‘outdoor classroom’ as they study the effects of restoring the native habitat.”

By week’s end, West Linn will be blanketed with the seeds of even more trees than it currently houses. The aesthetic benefits are obvious, but Arbor Week is also meant to remind of the silent contributions trees make to everyday life: cleaner air, habitats for wildlife, even higher property values.

“Our tree canopy makes our community a gorgeous place to live,” Wyatt said.

Those planting on their own are advised to pay close attention to certain variables that greatly affect a tree’s well-being, including moisture in the area, the tree’s projected height, the size of the hole for the seed (which should always be larger than seems necessary to allow for root growth), the depth of the seed when it is planted (which should be exactly as it was in the nursery) and the amount of water the seed receives (watering should take place once each week for the first year).