City of Arlington, Stilly task force organize tree planting

Students from Elger Bay Elementary School on Camano Island recently planted about 250 trees over two days at the Country Charm Conservation area in Arlington.  - Adam Rudnick
Students from Elger Bay Elementary School on Camano Island recently planted about 250 trees over two days at the Country Charm Conservation area in Arlington.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

ARLINGTON - It's only been one month since the city of Arlington closed its sale on a $4 million, 150-acre stretch of land, but the property is already beginning to change shape.

"We're already down here working," said Bill Blake, natural resources manager for the city.

Blake, along with members of the Stilly Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, recently combined their efforts at the former site of the Country Charm Dairy to organize two tree-planting events.

Students from Elger Bay Elementary School on Camano Island visited the future Arlington recreational area on Tuesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 22 Earth Day and planted approximately 250 cedars, spruce and cottonwood trees near the banks of the south fork of the Stillaguamish River.

"We're letting kids plant trees for a couple of hours, while at the same time teaching them about wildlife," Blake said during the second planting session. "It's good planting weather today."

Students planted what Blake called "secondary" trees, or species meant to supplement the already established "pioneer" trees near the river.

Trees were provided by the city of Arlington.

"Doing this will help with stability and help with flooding downstream," Blake said. "It also helps the fish."

During the three-hour Earth Day planting event, Elger Bay fifth-graders first got a lesson in how to plant trees from task force staff.

"How you plant these trees will determine whether they live or die," said Cara Ianni, education program manager for the task force, to a group of students. "You want to make the holes twice as wide as they are deep."

Ianni went on to demonstrate not only how to dig a hole, but how to massage the trees' roots before planting to ensure they grow correctly.

"We want to make it look like it hasn't come out of a pot," Ianni said.

After the short demonstration, the students grabbed shovels and began to put their newly acquired knowledge into action.

Upon planting a tree, each student would raise their hand or come get Ianni to ensure the tree was planted correctly.

The Elger Bay students had already received instruction during class before showing up for the two planting sessions, fifth-grader Faith Leslie said.

"We had a big tube to test the clarity of water," Leslie said about one of the class exercises she took part in.

In February, the city of Arlington purchased the property, which contains approximately 2.5 miles of riverfront property. City officials are looking at converting the farmland and the surrounding area into a multi-use recreation area.

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