City poised to receive 25th straight Tree City designation

Sean C. Morgan

The city of Sweet Home will

receive receive its 25th Tree City

USA award on Friday.

In addition to the Tree City

USA award, the city also has received

growth awards in 1991,

1993, 1996 and 2003.

Tree City USA is sponsored by

the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation

with the U.S. Forest Service

and the National Association of

State Foresters. The program provides

direction, technical assistant,

public attention and national recognition

for urban and community

forestry programs.

The city has invited as many

of the original Sweet Home Tree

Committee members as it can find

to attend the annual Arbor Day

tree planting and presentation of

the Tree City USA flag and plaque,

said Carol Lewis, community development


Howard Dew of Barringer and

Associates, now Cascade Timber

Consulting, led the organization of

the committee and development of

Sweet Home as Tree City USA in

1987, Lewis said. Other members

of the original committee included

Corky Lowen, Don Menear, Dave

Monson, Tom Berglund, Doug

Parker, Marion Nelson, Wesley Sisco,

Bill Porter, Garry Burkes, John

Neely, Alex Paul, Larry Hyland,

Bud Baumgartner, Erland Erickson

and Scott Proctor. Dave Holley was

Sweet Home’s mayor at the time.

That year, the committee planted

four red oak trees. The trunks of

those trees, two in front of City Hall

and two across the street from City

Hall in the parking lot, are now 12

to 14 inches in diameter.

In 1997, the commission started

its Celebration Tree program.

Through that program, individuals

can purchase a tree to honor other

individuals. The program provides

direction, technical assistance,

public attention and national recognition

for urban and community

forestry programs.

Current Tree Commission – as

it is now known – members include

Alice Smith, Bill Marshall, Katie

Kohl, Lena Tucker, Lindsay Anderson

and David Olson. The commission

has one vacancy.

Since 1987, the city and community

has spent some $738,000 on

urban forestry, Lewis said. “It’s interesting

how much has been done

without money and a budget.”

The city began budgeting $500

per year for the Tree Commission

in 1997, Lewis said. The commission

receives $2,500 now.

Last year, the commission,

community and city spent some

$46,000 on urban forestry, Lewis

said. Over the years, almost all of

the funds have been through city

staff time and volunteer donations

and labor.

The commission began its

Ames Creek Restoration project,

which included projects at Sankey

Park, the Fire Hall and behind CenturyLink’s

office over four years,

including the planting of 5,040

trees and riparian plants at Sankey

Park. Minor phases of the project

began in 1996, and the South Santiam

Watershed Council is doing

some work in Ames Creek this year.

The project has earned a number of

statewide awards for partnerships

and youth involvement.

The annual spring Tree Fair

ended in 2008, Lewis said, and

there are no plans to revive the

event right now.

Over time, volunteers get tired,

Lewis said. If the commission had

an influx of energy, it could start


The commission now sells

tree at the October Harvest Festival

and it will give away seedlings

this week to 264 fourth-graders

throughout School District 55. Selling

or giving away trees had been a

feature of the Tree Fair.

In 2010, the Tree Commission

began drafting ordinance language

for the protection of native trees

to be incorporated into land use


This year, the first tree protection

language will be included

in revisions to the city’s variance


At 11 a.m. on Friday, the commission

will plant a maple tree at

923 Main St., the location of the old

Gray Goose store and the former

location of Sweet Home Liquor


The tree will replace a red oak

that died, Lewis said.

On March 27, during the council’s

regular meeting, Mayor Craig

Fentiman read a proclamation declaring

April Sweet Home Arbor


Trees have been an important

part of Sweet Home’s history and

future, Fentiman said. Trees provide

beautiful places to recreate.

Trees improve critical habitat, and

the city of Sweet Home embraces

stewardship of the community forest.

“You’re looking at the value

theyprovide to quality of life,”

Lewis said.

The commission also is planning

an ivy pull for Earth Day,

April 21, part of the day’s SOLVIT

projects, Lewis said. A couple of

groups of youths have signed up

already. Anyone else interested in

helping can call Lewis at 367-8113

for more information. Registration

can be completed at the city’s website, or at the

event. Participants will meet at 10

a.m. at Weddle Bridge. The project

goes through noon at Sankey Park.

Participants will pull ivy out of the