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Trees take root in Ashland on Arbor Day

Despite a steady drizzle of rain, about 20 community members showed up to plant trees at the Ashland Arbor Week celebration Friday.

About 16 trees were purchased with the help of a $500 grant from Oregon Community Trees and in-kind donations from Plant Oregon Nursery in Talent to be planted by community volunteers and Ashland Parks and Recreation staff at Oak Knoll Golf Course.

To keep with the Oak Knoll theme, oak varieties were planted. But to improve the golf course toward a future Audubon accreditation pollinator-friendly trees were also planted.

Ashland was recognized as a certified tree city for the 34th year.

Additionally, Chris John was given the Oregon Community Trees (OCT) Individual Award. He was one of only three individuals in the state given honored in 2019.

Jim Gersbach, Public Affairs Manager for the Oregon Department of Forestry, attended the event..

Gersbach, who is also a memberof OCT, said the work that arborists like John does is important for urban forestry.

He said it’s tempting for arborists to remove trees when it’s not necessary.

Gersbach said John has convinced customers to not remove trees unless absolutely necessary, and his company, Canopy Tree Service, has donated trees to places that might not normally be able to afford them.

He said often trees are excessively pruned or removed when it’s not necessary because the homeowner might not have hired a professional arborist and not known how to properly manage the tree.

“But people in Ashland are doing it right, like Chris John, they’re looking at what will help the tree,” Gersbach said.

He said the concept to keep in mind is “The right tree in the right place.”

Parks Superintendent Mike Oxendine explained the same sentiment to the crowd as he demonstrated the proper planting of a valley oak tree near the golf clubhouse.

Oxendine explained that this tree came from Northern California, and so it is properly adapted to thrive in the Southern Oregon climate.

As he planted the tree, he explained that the hole he dug was very shallow for a reason, only a few inches deep.

“Trees can grow their roots downward, but they can’t lift themselves up,” Oxendine said.

Ashland resident JoAnne Eggers asked if the tree being planted would stay there or if it would be moved, due to a much larger and older oak tree not too far away from it.

“It’s here to stay for the next 300 years,” Oxendine answered. “Nothing ever happens quickly for trees, except falling and being cut down.”

He explained how over time the tree would sink deeper into the hole and the roots would grow securely.

He stabilized it by packing the soil in around it as the group dispersed into smaller groups to plant the other 15 trees.

As if the Earth said “thank you,” it began to rain in earnest as Oxendine finished shoveling bark mulch around the base of the newly planted tree.

Ashland High School students Cade Swenson and Will Beaudoin participated in the event for their senior project.

They helped transport the trees from the Plant Oregon Nursery in Talent and assisted by planting the trees during the celebration.

“We wanted to do a legacy project, something that we can come back years from now and see, and we wanted to help the community,” Beaudoin said. “I don’t think many people in our generation know how to take care of and preserve trees, or even care.”

“This project helps us out, and it helps out the community,” Swenson said.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Ashland resident JoAnne Eggers shovels top soil atop a freshly planted tree at Ashland's Arbor Week event. Ashland Tidings / Caitlin Fowlkes
Parks Superintendent Mike Oxendine demonstrating the proper planting of a tree at Oak Knoll Golf Course in Ashland, Oregon. Ashland Tidings / Caitlin Fowlkes