News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Marking Arbor Day in a tree city

"While most holidays celebrate something that has already happened and is worth remembering, Arbor Day represents a hope for the future. The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow to provide us with clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, healthier communities, and endless natural beauty – all for a better tomorrow." - Arbor Day Foundation

In celebration of Arbor Day 2024 on April 26, the excited voices and enthusiasm of some 20 children from the Pine Siskin School filled Creekside Park as they planted seedlings of ponderosa, aspen, and red twig dogwood. The Pine Siskin School, located in The Belfry, is a Waldorf-inspired mixed-age kindergarten.

Since 2007, the City of Sisters has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a designated Tree City USA which requires the City's ongoing commitment to preserving and efficiently managing our urban forest by: maintaining the Urban Forestry Board (UFB); having a community tree ordinance; creating and adopting the Urban Forest Management Plan; spending at least $2 per capita on its urban forest; and observing Arbor Day with an annual tree planting event and reciting the official Arbor Day proclamation. The value the City places on the urban forest is reflected in the fact that the City spent $26.80 per capita on tree planting and maintenance in 2023.

This year, the City of Sisters and the UFB partnered with Upper Deschutes Watershed Council (UDWC), and their education director Kolleen Miller, to plant seedlings along Whychus Creek where it flows through the park as part of ongoing riparian restoration work at that site.

After Miller shared about the importance of riparian areas for the health of the creek, she gave a short demonstration on the correct way to plant the seedlings. The Pine Siskin students and their parents, City staff, City Council members, and members of the public then went to work planting about 65 seedlings; some were sent home with the students. After planting, the seedlings were watered in well with child-sized watering cans provided by the City.

Ponderosa seedlings were purchased from Project Ponderosa, a nursery based in Sunriver, and seedlings of aspen and dogwood came from WinterCreek Nursery in Bend. As the trees grow, they will help to stabilize the stream bank, provide wildlife habitat, and provide a diversity of colors and foliage throughout different seasons of the year.

The young planters were very involved in their process and eager to share their thoughts. Wilder said he was excited to "help the trees grow." His younger sister Maela said she was glad to be "keeping them nice and warm and watering them." Five-year-old Bela informed this reporter that he has "been a plant scientist for about 1,000 years, no, actually 1,001 years" and he knows that "plants need water, sun, and time to grow." Another student knew that the trees they were planting would "provide oxygen for us to breathe."

The UFB is responsible for City-owned trees and contracts the services of Dan Galecki of Spindrift Forestry as City Forester. Galecki has undertaken an exhaustive inventory of all City-owned trees, recording their species, size, location, and health. They advise the City Council on tree-related issues within the City. UFB meetings are held monthly, the second Monday, at 3 p.m., at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend in person or via Zoom.

UFB member Therese Kollerer said, "We would love to interact more with community members! Many folks in Sisters are interested in protecting and preserving our shared treasure of majestic ponderosas and other trees around town."

Associate City Planner, Emme Shoup, told The Nugget, "Therese has been a huge help in making the City of Sisters Arbor Day a bit more special than in recent years. In looking ahead to future Arbor Day events, UFB members and City staff have been working together to assess the potential of allocating more funding and outreach capacity in hopes of making the City's Arbor Day celebrations a more robust community-wide event."


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