October 23, 2011 in City

Hundreds plant ponderosas bought with prize funds

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Chris Bachman, 45, of Spokane Valley, pounds away at the rocky ground as he prepares a planting spot on the bank of the Spokane River. The Lands Council was awarded $20,000 in Tom’s of Maine’s 50 States for Good competition for the Reforest Spokane project.
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Spokane got a little greener Saturday.

Hundreds of shovel-wielding volunteers planted 10,000 ponderosa pines at a dozen locations in the area.

“Spokane needs a little revitalization,” said Jasmine Maxey as she helped her 6-year-old daughter plant a sapling at a Spokane Valley site off Sullivan Road near the Spokane River.

“Too industrial,” agreed her husband, Scott Maxey.

The Lands Council bought the 6- to 8-inch-tall saplings with money won in the nationwide Tom’s of Maine 50 States for Good contest. The Reforest Spokane project came in second out of hundreds of entries in the online contest; the council won $20,000.

Organizers quickly surpassed their goal of 500 volunteers; about 900 registered by Saturday. The council hopes to make the tree-planting an annual event, said Mike Petersen, Lands Council director.

The trees should thrive here, he said. Once they’re established, the trees can grow a foot per year, can reach well over 100 feet and can live to be 700 years old with limbs “as thick as a human body.”

“It’s kind of neat because people are going to have ownership over these trees,” he said.

The trees will purify the air, clean stormwater runoff, provide shade, and prevent noxious weeds from growing.

“We chose ponderosas because that’s Spokane’s native tree,” Petersen said. “It’s long-living, it’s adaptive to this area, they grow very tall and they can live on the water that’s in our semi-arid area.”

The group may return next year to water the trees, but other than that they won’t need much care.

“They’ll do pretty good without additional watering,” he said.

Volunteers planted 1,300 trees at the Sullivan site. Organizers worked with the state Department of Transportation, Avista Utilities, the city of Spokane, the Spokane Conservation District and Greenstone Homes to determine the locations most in need of the trees.

Petersen said it’s important to replant the trees, because they were cut down for lumber, mining and farming as Spokane grew.

“The trees helped to build Spokane,” he said.

Central Valley High School Green Club members were among those getting their hands dirty Saturday.

“It’s nice to know you’re giving back and doing nice things,” said Philip Howard, 15. “It’s better than staying inside and watching TV.”

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