As a plant for restoration work at Bald Hill Farm, native willow has a number of advantages.
The willows create shade on the stream, which improves stream health. They provide habitat for insects and birds and hopefully crowd out invasive species like silver poplar, said Kathleen Westly, education and restoration project manager for the Marys River Watershed Council.
And there's an additional advantage: It's not hard to get cuttings of it to take root in the ground.
“It happens fairly easily with willow. It roots fairly quickly,” said Westly, noting that root hormones gardeners use to get other plants to root usually are made from willow.
On Friday, volunteers planted around 200 willow stakes at the Greenbelt Land Trust’s Bald Hill Farm property as part of the first Plant a Tree Day sponsored by the Vermont organization One Tree Planted. Westly said the project was part of the restoration and education work the trust, the watershed council and the Institute for Applied Ecology perform at the property.
One Tree Planted granted the Land Trust and the Watershed Council $1,000 for planning the event. The local organizations passed the money through to their partner watershed in Rio Laja, Mexico. The local organizations and their partners in Mexico both bring students to the watersheds, where, among other things, they study migratory birds that occupy both watersheds.
Westly said the Meyer Memorial Trust has offered the Oregon organizations $20,000 in grant funding for the projects, with a stipulation that their partner watershed raise matching funds for projects there. The funds raised from Friday's Plant a Tree day will go towards that matching goal, so they also help the local organizations, Westly said.
Westly said the partner organizations had about 35 people sign up to help with the planting.
According to One Tree Planted’s website, more than a dozen tree planting events were planned for Friday throughout the United States and Canada. The organization also works with schools and other partners on plantings. Visit onetreeplanted.org for more information.