West Linn celebrates Arbor Week
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.

They provide shade on a sunny day, create a place for kids to play and offer a dramatic show with each change of season. Trees play a major role in the landscape of West Linn.

West Linn enjoys an abundance of trees - the tree canopy covers more than 30 percent of the city - especially with the inclusion of Mary S. Young Park in its boundaries. Some of those trees are a little bigger, a little older and a little statelier than others, deserving the recognition of heritage trees. West Linn has nine such trees.

'I think it's nice to give them that recognition for the larger, historical trees in town,' said City Arborist Mike Perkins. "It has to be an exceptional tree."

In the 1990s, the city initiated a program in which trees could be nominated for heritage status. Between 1993 and 1997, nine trees were identified. To qualify, the trees must meet certain factors such as size, location and historical significance. However, because the city has so many fir trees, applications for those tend to be denied.

A cedar tree in front of West Linn High School is a heritage tree. It was planted in 1933 by Wendal Warren, the school's student body president.

The city's other heritage trees and locations include:

• Oregon white oak at 2591 Dillow Drive

• Big leaf maple at 1775 19th St.

• Tri-color beech at 5530 River St.

• Oregon white oak at 2053 Walden St.

• California bay laurel at 1831 Fifth Ave.

• Cedar of Lebanon at West Linn High School

• Black walnut along the Willamette River

• London plane tree at 1819 Sixth Ave.

• Willow at 1420 Dollar St.

When a tree is declared a heritage tree, the city enters into an agreement with the property owner to help maintain and care for the tree.

"It helps protect them," said Perkins.

As he works around the city, Perkins keeps an eye out for spectatular trees. There is a Douglas fir at Mary S. Young Park he is considering nominating as a heritage tree. "It's a gnarly old tree," he said.

To mark the city's commitment to trees, the Arbor Day Foundation announced March 7 that West Linn was named a Tree City USA community for the 19th time. The Arbor Day Foundation is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.

West Linn continually meets the four standards to become a Tree City USA community. Tree City USA communities must have a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, a community forestry program with annual expenditures of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

To celebrate Arbor Week, the city has a series of events and offerings planned, including:

• Tree giveaway: The city is giving away tree seedlings at city hall on a first-come, first-served basis. Supplies are limited. City hall is located at 22500 Salamo Road.

• Tualatin Bluff work: West Linn High School ecology classes will lead Willamette Primary students in removing invasive species and planting natives for the 13th year at the Tualatin Bluff open space. The students use the area as an outdoor classroom to study the effects of their work.

• Planting party: Volunteer planting parties will be held at Marylhurst Heights Park in preparation for the park's May 5 grand opening.

• Fourth Grade Foresters: Fourth-graders in West Linn are participating in the 'Fourth Grade Foresters' program, which is sponsored by the city. The organization sends every fourth-grader a tree to plant and care for in the city's name. The program is trying to revitalize Arbor Day for students nationwide.

• Wilderness Park work: At Wilderness Park from 9 a.m. to noon April 7, volunteers will remove invasive plants such as ivy and blackberries. The event is part of a joint maintenance plan with the West Linn-Wilsonville School District and the Nature Conservatory for Wilderness Park, Camassia Natural Area and adjoining high school property.

• Coloring contest: Children in kindergarten through fifth grade at West Linn schools have been invited to participate in a drawing and coloring contest depicting a scene from the White Oak Savanna in West Linn. The winners will be announced during Arbor Week and the artwork will be displayed at city hall.

Perkins said all planting events can be scheduled to accommodate groups as they sign up. For more information about Arbor Week events, visit

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