“I can’t think of anything better to do on a Saturday, than plant trees. And it’s not even raining,” Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann said, addressing more than 60 volunteers who had gathered in Nadaka Nature Park on a cool grey morning to plant 80 trees in honor of Earth Month.
It was the first time that Friends of Trees, a nonprofit that plants native trees and other plants, had come to Gresham. The group has long worked with Portland General Electric and the tree growers, J. Frank Schmidt and Sons, which came out Saturday to support the event.
The event was made possible by a Partners in Conservation grant from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, which awarded $143,000 to Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability and Friends of Trees to plant 250 trees across the county over the next three years.
“We’ve been working with the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability to get more trees in East County,” Commissioner Stegmann said. And getting trees to Rockwood was a priority. “This is one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the county,” She said. “And I want to make it greener, healthier place to live.”
Suzanne Easton, grants program manager for the soil and water conservation district, said they were excited to support a project that focused on East County. “There’s not enough investment here,” she said. “We’re always looking for strong partnerships that involve communities. We’re really committed to a more equitable distribution of conservation efforts in other parts of the county.”
Multnomah County staff were joined by Rockwood area residents, staff from Portland General Electric, Gresham City Council member Kirk French and members of Gresham’s urban forestry subcommittee.
Jim Buck, a member of Gresham’s urban forestry subcommittee, showed the youngest volunteers how to shovel dirt. “I just have a belief that trees add to the health and aesthetic of the area,” he said. “Increasingly science shows they clean particulates from the air, help climate change. And they offer shade in the summer.”
Earth Month is celebrated every April, culminating in the recognition of Earth Day, on April 22. Other Earth Month events involving Multnomah County include:
- Thursday, April 19: Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson hosts an Environmental Justice 101 discussion, 12:30 to 2 p.m., at the Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
- Saturday, April 21: Commissioner Sharon Meieran joins in for the SOLVE Litter Clean up, starting at the PCC Climb Center.
- Thursday, April 26: Commissioner Loretta Smith plants herbs at the Hope Garden, during Take Your Child to Work Day. 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.