Corvallis’ Urban Forestry Program Offers Trees, Help

This week is Oregon Arbor Week! And, Corvallis has been named as a Tree City USA for eighteen consecutive years by National Arbor Day Foundation.

Given, our City’s Urban Forestry Program’s goal of 170 new trees this season, it seems we are going for a nineteenth. Urban Forestry Staff make it easy for homeowners to adopt a tree to plant in the area between the street and the sidewalk. While an urban environment is not ideal for growing trees, and restricted root space and poor soil pose challenges, the Urban Forestry Program works extensively in combating these issues.

Their attention to detail in terms of how they decide which trees are placed is perfectly summed up by their principle of “right tree, right place.” This basically means selecting trees which best meet the following criteria: Climate, soil compatibility, growing space, compatibility with adjacent infrastructure, diversity, and aesthetic fit.

According to Jon Pywell of the Urban Forestry Program, they want to ensure that the trees will fit with today’s and tomorrow’s climate. With an expanding city it’s important to take these things into account. “We plant more than 120 different types of trees so we have one that will work almost anywhere you can plant a tree,” Pywell says, “We don’t plant many native trees because the area beside the road in an urbanized area shares very little with the native environment they need. We do on occasion plant big leaf maple and Oregon white oak, but generally we want to increase diversity of species to make our urban forest more resilient to climate change, invasive pests and diseases.”

A team of neighborhood tree stewards help to manage the over 15-thousand trees currently in their database. According to their website, this database is updated daily and allows them to maintain diversity within the 300 unique species of trees. While planting is only the first step, the Urban Forestry Program also offers trainings for those who maybe don’t have as green of a thumb. These classes are free and for anyone who is interested in learning how to care for trees. Volunteers work year-round with commitments of a single tree or even an entire neighborhood. “We work with stewards to determine a realistic, manageable and fun commitment for them. Right now we have more than 50 stewards in the program. Some are highly active, patrolling entire neighborhoods by bike and on foot. We even have one couple who works together to mulch trees in their neighborhood with a bike and trailer. Talk about reducing their carbon footprint!”

With sunny weather coming, if you don’t have that space reserved yet, consider making your home part of the project.

If you are interested in becoming involved or want to learn more, reach out to Jon Pywell with Urban Forestry Program at Jonathan.Pywell@corvallisoregon.gov or (541) 754-1723.

-By Laine Aswad