City celebrates its connection to trees with Arbor Day planting

Mayor Chas Jones understands the importance of trees through the wide range of benefits they bring to a community like Philomath. He also knows the impacts they can have on someone’s life.

Jones can share a story about a friend, Mike Durglo, who for more than three decades has worked with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe. Durglo’s great grandparents used to take him as a child up to a whitebark pine tree estimated to be around 3,000 years old. In fact, the tribe’s native name for the tree translates to “Great Great Great Grandparent.”

“Trees are something that ground us through the generations and it can be a powerful thing if you recognize the significance of what they represent,” Jones said. “Trees are multigenerational. The tree in my backyard, I’m sure, that at least five generations have touched it and worked on that same tree.”

Jones was among those participating in an Arbor Day celebration that the city hosted on Friday morning. After a couple of short speeches and reading of a proclamation, two new trees were planted in the 2800 block of Applegate Street.

“For a lot of people who are less fortunate, these trees aren’t very cheap to purchase,” Jones said in an interview after the event. “In some ways, it’s a barrier to even owning trees. But we kind of forget that we can just plant a seed, that we don’t need a 4- or a 5-year-old tree that costs $200. We can plant seeds for a dime or less and help these families and people who could benefit from having property values increase and having shade in their backyards.”

Garry Black speaking
Philomath Public Works Operations Supervisor Garry Black talks about the site that was chosen for the planting of two trees. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Garry Black, Philomath Public Works operations supervisor, heads up the annual Arbor Day celebrations. In recent years, the city has hosted events at the Public Works yard that includes the planting and giving away of saplings to participating school children from Philomath and Kings Valley.

“For us as a community, it helps us increase our community liability by planting trees, enhancing our beauty in the city, so that’s why it’s important to me,” Black said when asked why he appreciates Arbor Day and maintaining Philomath’s Tree City USA status.

Black had a few comments for those on hand, including why the city was planting the two trees at the Applegate Street location, a stretch that sits near the 28th Place cul-de-sac. At the request of a homeowner, three crabapple trees that had been planted years ago were taken out and replaced with two red-bud trees.

Black said the trees will have a red, flowery kind of look with what resembles a maple leaf when they grow out.

Lige Weedman, city arborist, along with Jones and Rick Flacco, who sits on the city’s Tree Board, planted the two trees.

Arbor Day tree-planting event
Those in attendance at Friday’s tree-planting event gather for a group photo at the homeowner’s site on Applegate Street. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Beyond that particular location, Philomath is currently seeing significant housing developments progress and one of the requirements for the new home sites is to plant a street tree.

“As we grow, we’re trying to keep a tree canopy for the city,” Black said. “If you have an open field (for example) and all of a sudden now you rip all of the trees out, you’re not keeping your tree canopy up to the numbers we want.”

A year from now, Black hopes that the Arbor Day event with the young students will be back. He misses seeing their faces on that special day of the year.

“I wanted to go back with it this year but it just was not going to work out,” he said. “Next year, it’ll be with the kids.”


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