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Why Corvallis' tree canopy is looking a little fresher

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The right tree in the right spot. That was the goal when the city of Corvallis urban forestry department and local Girl Scouts teamed up on a pair of projects to boost the tree canopy in town.

The first project, a tree-planting session in northwest Corvallis, worked out so well that the scouts, from Troop 21232, and urban forester Jennifer Killian took to the streets a couple of weeks ago to do some more plantings.

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The plantings also help with a Girl Scouts national goal of planting 5 million trees in the next five years while vowing to preserve and honor new and existing trees. Key aims of the program are to improve habitat for wildlife and ease the impacts of climate change.

The Nov. 14 project added six trees to a part of Southeast Park Place in Corvallis. The new trees replaced five dead ones, Killian said, with a local homeowner bringing the situation to her attention. Killian worked with the homeowners on selecting appropriate replacements and came up with three wildfire tupelos, two snowcone Japanese snowbells and one Kentucky yellowwood.

Urban forestry has changed dramatically in recent decades, with improved understanding of tree species helping cities plant “the right tree in the right spot.”

Key factors in the placement of the Southeast Park Place replacement trees were the size of the right-of-way, exposure and a lack of competing utilities. Originally, just one homeowner signed on for the project.

“Our in-house crew removed the trees and we contracted the stump grind,” Killian said. “During the process, two additional houses signed up for trees as well.”

Killian then worked again with Troop 21232 co-leader Lina DiGregorio to bring in Scouts to finish the project.

DiGregorio said the Scouts “brought their energy and enthusiasm to the project. They dug holes, roughed out root balls, planted, watered and mulched.”

And learned a few lessons along the way, Killian said.

“Before the planting, we talked about the importance of trees in the landscape, and what the trees do for the community,” she said. “The Scouts were inquisitive and asked great questions about my job, how the city’s urban forestry program works, and how trees can help in the fight against climate change.

“I was honored to be a part of this planting, and I think it’s such a cool opportunity to contribute our trees to this national program.”

After planting their first tree, DiGregorio said, “the girls encircled the planting spot on the ground with their hands and recited the Girl Scout Tree Promise, which begins, “I promise to be a friend to every tree, just like they’re a friend to me.”

DiGregorio praised the community service spirit of the troop, noting that the girls also have worked with the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department to install trash cans in MLK Park, donated to local family shelters, supported pet shelters, and participated in clothing drives.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@lee.net or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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