Guest Post: At the Root: Trees Rule

At the Root: Trees Rule

By Guest Blogger: Eileen Stark, Portland, Oregon

     Although the region’s unique wetlands and grasslands carry the greatest diversity of species, it is the forests that dominate and most distinctly characterize the Pacific Northwest. Structurally complex, dense, and immense ecosystems, forests sustain trees that substantially outgrow and outlive other plants and tolerate temperature variation and soil differences better. When the first European settlers arrived, conifers covered nearly the entire landscape of western British Columbia and Washington, and northwestern Oregon–from coast to Cascade crest–including the Puget Trough and parts of the Georgia Basin and Willamette Valley.Real Gardens Grow Natives
     These conifers (and other dominant species) are known as keystone species because of their strong and often unique effects on their ecosystem. Though they are greatly outnumbered by smaller plants in the forest, their contributions are mammoth. Cool, wet winters and mild, dry summers, along with rich soils, have made for optimum evergreen growing conditions.
     Conifers are able to photosynthesize during much of the year and are essential for watershed stabilization. Some species are the most massive on earth, often growing over 200 feet tall and living for more than 500 years. Worldwide, conifers represent the largest terrestrial “carbon sink,” where carbon is packed away in plant tissue above and below ground. The wettest forests–those on the west side of coastal mountain ranges–were once especially complex, with lush layering and much variation in tree age. Logging has eliminated much of the original, most productive old-growth forests, and massive clearcutting has resulted in severe fragmentation. Today, much forested land is “second growth” that has followed logging and wildfire.
     Garry oak (or Oregon White oak) ecosystems, where these oaks grow naturally, have become rare, with only a very small percentage remaining. The loss of these unique ecosystems puts all the species that rely on them in jeopardy, and indeed, some species have already been lost, while many of the remaining are at risk. If you live on land that was once part of a Garry oak ecosystem and are starting with a blank slate, consider planting Garry oaks and associated species like madrone (Arbutus menziesii), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), and baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa). If your site is too small for large trees, grow the smaller associated species in a meadowlike garden or rock garden. Spring ephemerals include white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum), Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), and camas (Camassia quamash). Mid-bloomers include tiger lily (Lilium columbianum), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), stonecrop (Sedum spp.), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), and western columbine (Aquilegia formosa); for late blooms try yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis), showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus), and goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).
     Most yards can support more trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, than they do. If you have the space, grow large trees–the oaks, the pines, the firs–that are quintessential to our region and will help replace some of the habitat that has been lost to development and logging. Just one Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) will provide dense shelter and nesting sites for various birds and small mammals, bark that can be used as nesting material, food for seed-eating birds and browsing mammals, and, as the trees mature, cavities for roosting and cavity-nesting birds.
     In urban areas, street trees that grow in parking strips could be native species (as well as the other plants you grow there). Some good choices for narrow parking strips (not less than 4 feet wide) include cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), Douglas maple (Acer glabrum), and black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), and for wider strips (greater than 6 feet wide) and without overhead utility wires, Garry oak (Quercus garryana), and Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia). Always check with your city’s urban forestry office before planting.
Excerpt from Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant, & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden by Eileen M. Stark (Mountaineers Books, 2014)

 

Oxygen

Plant Trees – Leave Trees Standing – For better health for all living beings

Humans and other species thrive on oxygen. Trees and other plants create oxygen. So, you’d think if we wanted to live long, healthy lives and save other species – we’d plant as many trees as possible. Big trees also give off more oxygen than young trees – so, leaving big trees standing also makes sense for oxygen production.  the-tunnel-of-trees

If you’ve ever been in a plant store or the middle of a forest you know how good it feels to be breathing higher concentrations of oxygen.

So, for greater planetary health and better longevity – plant trees whenever possible and work to stop trees from being cut down everywhere.  The End


Well, not exactly. So, the thoughts above came from me mulling over a friend who has a tree in her front yard and two trees in her planting strip out front. She’s got yellow tags circling all three – and mentioned that the 2 trees in the planting strip are not well and that the big tree out front threatens her house.

Here’s where my mind goes.

  1. The trees in the planting strip – The City mentioned that she wouldn’t get permitted to have 2 trees there, and so if she replants she’ll only get to plant 1 tree. I didn’t look closely at the trees – but will encourage her to feed the trees and take care of them and see if she can keep them going. They are about 10 feet tall and possibly could grow much taller.  Every street tree adds to shade, oxygen, traffic calming, bird habitat, property value increase (I think it’s $10K per tree).
  2. The big tree in the middle of the lawn – the shade to the house in the Summer (the past couple summers in Portland have been incredibly hot) – probably reduces heating bills and glare + the other attributes mentioned above. Yes, there are costs to owning trees – pruning, caring for the tree.
  3. One thing that most people don’t think about is the whole canopy – the trees covering Portland and what the cumulative effect of many trees has on our lives. IMHO, the more trees the better = more oxygen. It’s also a beauty thing. I’m looking out a 2nd story window right now across the roofline of SE Portland and there are many trees. Remove one and you remove beauty for someone who is used to seeing your tree. + Autumn Leaves.

I hope you’ll reconsider when you think about removing a tree for some good reason. Tree companies who come out to talk trees make money from tree removal. The Urban Forestry folks at the City of Portland are also not in the business of keeping trees standing and we’re losing Portland’s canopy at an alarming rate. Mature trees are Biocarbon Heavyweights.

If you’re interested in this topic – we have a group on Facebook organized to keep tall trees standing. As well as an email list for this topic. Thanks for your consideration.

Oh, and plant trees (see above) – fruit trees, nut trees, shade trees – Friends of Trees is a great place to start.

Here’s to your health and our planet’s health.

moratorium on tree cutting in portland

3.19.18: Eileen writes: “Yes and don’t forget about carbon sequestration. And that regional native trees provide more food and other habitat for wildlife.”

Tree Planting Success 2012

 

We had a great tree planting in Irvington, Sabin, Grant Park, and Alameda neighborhoods last weekend (March 10, 2012). thanks are in order! Here are some of the folks we want to thank!

  1. Friends of Trees Staff – esp. Jesse Batty and Erica Timm – for leading the charge and making the event go so smoothly.
  2. Eric McClelland and Marai Boamod – who drove the rental truck to Molalla and back and picked up our trees!
  3. To our fabulous local businesses who donated food and drink for the breakast and lunches: Whole Foods, Helen Bernhard Bakery, Costello’s Travel Caffe, Caffe D’arte, Peet’s Coffee on NE Broadway, Kettleman’s Bagels
  4. To the Holladay Park Church of God which has housed the event 2 years in a row. thank you!
  5. To our 150 volunteers who gather early on a Saturday morning and head out into the day and planted the trees – thanks for your labor and generous spirit!
  6. To neighbors who made food and donated food – the soups and chilis and stews were delicious, thank you!
  7. To Holli Talkington who photographed our day!
  8. The members of the band: Ten Spiders – we loved your music! Ten Spiders is available for hire – a great addition to just about any occation.
  9. To Alan Rahi and his partner Mira Eng-Goetz for designing and printing over 150 shirts for us! If you didn’t pick yours up it is probably waiting for you at the Friends of Trees office.
  10. To my fellow neighborhood coordinators: Lisa, Malcha, and Neil, who do a lot of behind the scenes work to make the planting go well – esp. including picking up the food donations and calling in utility locations.

I’m sure there are more people to thank, please feel free to add them into the comment section.  And, I’ll add more pictures here as they come in!  Thanks everyone for your help in adding to Portland’s canopy.

This year’s planting featured the volunteer effort of many young people.  I’ve never seen that many young people volunteering together before – it was impressive. Some day I hope that these young people will come back and visit the trees they planted and smile.

Nehelam

mmm, good morning world. I had a great adventure yesterday and am feeling revived and refreshed by it. I spent the day with Duane and Melani who run Summer Lake Hot Springs Resort in Paisley, Oregon. We traveled together to Nehelam where Duane wanted to show me land he had purchased 14 years ago and which he’ll learn more about the fate of today when he meets with investors who supported the purchase. It’s about 10 acres and it has a view of Saddle Mountain and the coastal range looking north. We drove out rt. 53 to get there, and stopped along the way to look at a cavernous creek in some light rain. Being in the Tillamook State Forest reminded me of why I spend time trying to defend the place. It’s such a magical land of creeks, rivers, logging roads, ferns, hemlock and undergrowth. And the rain just makes it all the wetter and greener – so magical.

The Tillamook State Forest is Oregon’s biggest and is the subject of much discussion around the area as it has a special place for many. A number of times in the 20th Century the forest burned and because it was the depression there was the CCC and many others (students, particularly) who traveled to the burned areas and replanted the forests.  People in Oregon have a special relationship with this forest. Nowadays, the forests are clear-cut by local timber companies and some of the money goes to fund local schools and government services. Unfortunately, due to the lack of nearby mills and market forces the logs mostly are cut and shipped directly overseas, to China, I believe.  Since the profits from the logging are tied to local services there is pressure to cut more and more trees thus leaving a landscape that looks trashed.

Photo by Danielle

Lately, our Governor has stated that he is in favor of a more balanced approach that would also take into account environmental factors (there are landslides everywhere) – other species (it’s Spotted Owl and Marbled Murulet country)(and lots of salmon and other fish species) – and recreation (fishing, hiking, camping, white-water rafting).  Unfortunately, it’s quite an uphill battle due to the fact that the Oregon Board of Forestry which sets policy for the forests is mostly made up of timber company owners and representatives.  I’ve testified before the group numerous times in Salem, and they are not swayed by public opinion at all.

More background on this issue can be found here.  And if you’d like to join my Facebook cause page, click here.

We arrived at Duane’s land near Nehelam in a downpour and put on our raingear and bushwhacked through the property, climbing amongst overgrown blackberry brambles and small trees and bushes. I’d seen pictures of the property in sunshine and I believe the views to the north and west are stunning, but yesterday the view was a wall of rain.  And, it felt so invigorating to wander around and be human bushhogs!  After about an hour we were all pretty soaked and we got back in the van and made our way to Manzanita with a detour to the town’s “rebuilding center” which is a collection of recycling and 2nd hand store which was a fun side trip.

We followed this up with lunch in Manzanita and then a wonderful drive home full of conversations about land, business, relationships and our personal stories. Duane and Melani are living a dream – living in the Oregon high desert and meeting interesting travelers from all over the world.  They both have great perspectives on life and are positive, evolved people.  It was such a nice combination to have great conversations and be out in the wilderness and I feel lucky today to have had the adventure!  Here’s to life, may we live it big and large and lusciously!  And, please join me in learning more about the Tillamook State Forest and how to protect it from greed.

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