Helping the environment, one tree at a time.
That was the goal at Bend’s Discovery Park on Monday, where some city employees and a group of local kids gathered around for an Arbor Day celebration, complete with a ceremonial tree planting and a few words from nature educators.
The event comes after Bend City Council declared April ‘Arbor Month’ last week.
It was also held in recognition of the City’s 19th year as a Tree City USA.
To maintain that status, the City needs to have a tree ordinance, a tree board (currently City Council), spend an annual $2 per capita on tree care annually, and hold an Arbor Day celebration.
“The city spends far beyond the $2 per capita,” said the city’s Tree City Coordinator, Wendy Robinson. “We partner with the parks district, and we’ve been averaging around $10 per capita on tree care and tree development projects.”
As the city grows, maintaining trees is more important than ever.
“There’s something called an urban island effect that happens in large metro areas,” said Noelle Belle Copley, Central Oregon Community College’s Sustainability Coordinator. “Where they do experience higher temperatures where there’s more concretes and less trees, and that makes a big deal for the folks who live there and especially the natural habitat.”
Central Oregon Community college was recently named a Tree Campus USA for the staff’s own dedication to local flora and fauna.
“The state of the trees in Central Oregon is getting sort of weak with higher temperatures and drought,” Belle Copley added. “It is a goal of the COCC ground staff that for every tree that we have to take out for disease or anything else, we plant at least two or three more.”
Robinson added that Bend is a naturally beautiful place, but the city loses a lot of trees through development of private property.
“Through replanting, even if they’re not the native trees, we’ll create a canopy over the city that will help cool the ground, cool the earth, help with energy conservation,” she said.
City staff believes that teaching the next generation is one of the best ways to care for trees of the future.
At Monday’s event, kids from toddlers pre-teens were able to learn about the importance of tree planting, as well as the role of pollinators in sustaining plants.
“They are the future,” Robinson said. “They need to see the benefits of trees. When we talk about these trees, they already see it. They already know what those trees are doing for them. They cool them when it’s hot, they sit under their shade.”
“They take what we breathe out, and make what we breathe in, they make oxygen,” said nine-year-old Corvin.
When asked if he thought he would plant his own trees, he said, “in the future, maybe!”
Bend City Council’s official proclamation says it is “a call to action for all citizens to join in an effort to promote the good health and beauty of our local and global environments.”