Arlington marks Arbor Day with tree planting

Iris Caldwell, left, holds a seedling steady while Tatiana Carlston makes sure it’s secure in the soil of the Country Charm Park and Conservation Area on April 12. - Kirk Boxleitner
Iris Caldwell, left, holds a seedling steady while Tatiana Carlston makes sure it’s secure in the soil of the Country Charm Park and Conservation Area on April 12.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Arlington celebrated its 13th year of receiving Tree City Awards during its Arbor Day tree-planting at the Country Charm Park and Conservation Area on Saturday, April 12.

City of Arlington Natural Resources Manager Bill Blake estimated that 40 volunteers from the surrounding community turned out to plant 222 native trees, mostly Sitka spruce and Western red cedar, over the course of roughly two hours that morning.

“The city purchased the trees from the Snohomish Conservation District as seedlings two years ago, and grew them larger in pots,” Blake said. “The day’s sunshine and the sandy loam of the farming soils made it easy to dig in, but the planting still had its challenges, including the poky branches on the Sitka spruce, and the sun in your eyes after six months of cloudy skies.”

Blake explained that this day’s plantings completed the plantings around all 26 of the Country Charm Park and Conservation Area’s camp sites. While its turnout was a bit less than previous such plantings at Country Charm, Blake saw that as a natural consequence of the number of people still working on Oso mudslide relief efforts.

“Arlington continues to meet the requirements of a Tree City, year after year, since first qualifying,” said Blake, who listed those qualifications as maintaining an active tree board and spending at least $2 per capita, or $36,000 per year, on tree-related activities. “The educational booth by Sound Salmon Solutions gave not only examples of how a landowner can work with SSS on implementing best management practices on lands that can benefit salmon and aid in the recovery of Endangered Species Act-listed species, but also examples of how native trees and shrubs can be used in a number of ways in modern life, similar to the ways they were used for centuries by the local Native American tribes.”

While Sound Salmon Solutions brought the educational booth, shovels and gloves, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians supplied a tree body oil workshop and mowed the center area for tents. Roger and Hank Graafstra even prepared the planting areas in between the camp sites, while the city itself provided the trees, plant protectors, planting brochures, and both snacks and children’s activities for the volunteers.

Blake and city of Arlington Recreation Manager Sarah Lopez credited the Stillaguamish Tribe and the Arney Farm with donating the incense cedar and Oso berry trees that were planted in tribute to those who were impacted by the Oso mudslide, complete with a yellow ribbon tied around the incense cedar.

“Because we have a local berry named Oso berry, we thought it would be fitting to plant it at the entryway to the campground in memoriam,” Blake said. “We planted the trees at 10:47 a.m., exactly three weeks from when the slide occurred, and had a brief moment to remember those who were lost and most affected. The people of the Steelhead Drive neighborhood lived there to be close to nature and the river. The Country Charm Park and Conservation Area is located on that same river, and provides an opportunity for people who seek to experience the natural world to get out and enjoy it.”

Blake elaborated that the ultimate goal is to include a small plaque, with the name of the plant and a reference to both the slide and the year 2014.

“The trees provide shade, which will cool the water and provide a nice place to rest on a warm day,” Blake said. “They also stabilize the soils, to prevent erosion along the hillsides and stream banks, and take up carbon dioxide, producing the oxygen that we breathe.”

As valuable as the environmental benefits of the day’s planting are, Blake also cherished seeing so many smiling faces out in the field.

“Planting trees is one of those great opportunities for community members to make a contribution that they can continue to watch grow over time,” Blake said. “There is nothing better, after 20-plus years of doing this, than hearing from a 30-year-old that they helped plant trees with me when they were in grade school. They will still be telling their kids about planting those trees when they are my age.”

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