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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane parks department outlines plan, seeks volunteers to replace trees lost in January windstorm

Multiple pine trees lay on the ground in Comstock Park on the South Hill on Jan. 13 after high winds swept through the area.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Multiple pine trees lay on the ground in Comstock Park on the South Hill on Jan. 13 after high winds swept through the area. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane parks crews are seeking volunteers to help plant trees this spring to more than replace the approximately 200 lost during the January windstorm.

The goal of the city’s 2021 Windstorm Restoration Plan is to plant two replacement trees for each one that was downed earlier this year. City officials said the replacements will be native conifers, such as the ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, western larch and white pine.

Garrett Jones, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the 2-to-1 planting ratio is one the city has aspired to with past projects that have necessitated tree removal. Jones said Thursday the plantings are expected to begin “very soon,” as parks staff is evaluating ideal planting locations and the timeline.

The process is expected to continue through 2022 with spring and fall plantings. Crews will place priorities on parks with the greatest need based on the levels of loss from the January windstorm as well as the storm from November 2015, Jones said. The January storm caused more than $700,000 in damages just to the city’s park system, Spokane officials said Wednesday.

Comstock Park, which remains temporarily closed due to the storm damage from earlier this year, will be a high priority, Jones said. City officials said the park’s reopening will be announced shortly.

“We’re also looking at those parks, too, where we can see the advantages and opportunities to increase that canopy cover,” Jones said. “These are the other parts in our system that didn’t see the substantial tree loss during these storms, but have great opportunities to plant new trees.”

In addition to the replacement trees, the Restoration Plan will look to transform areas of maintained natural turf grass “into more of a native-type habitat,” Jones said, whether that’s through native grasses or woody mulch.

“It’s something that we’ve been working on for quite a while, and it ties into the overall health of the trees as well,” he said, referencing arboreal irrigation methods and undergrowth. “A hundred percent of the entire park doesn’t necessarily need to be maintained turf.”

The city parks department’s Urban Forestry team and The Lands Council collaborated on the restoration plan.

The plan was developed in line with SpoCanopy, a Spokane parks program aimed at ensuring every city neighborhood has 40% tree canopy cover by 2030. Similarly, SpoCanopy is a collaboration between Urban Forestry and The Lands Council.

Jones said the city reached out to The Lands Council shortly after the January storm.

“We’ve had a relationship through the SpoCanopy program for quite a few years,” Jones said, “so this was a natural fit when we talk about volunteer coordination, donations and just that expertise that The Lands Council can just assist us with.”

A representative from the Lands Council could not be immediately reached for comment.

As it stands, cleanup from the January storm remains ongoing, city officials said.

Stump grindings are still taking place, while proceeds from the sale of cut logs – approximately $21,000 – will help fund the tree replacements. Firewood, meanwhile, is being donated to Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP).

City officials are asking anyone interested in supporting the restoration plan to consider the following options:

  • Volunteer to plant trees at planting events (visit spokaneparks.org/volunteer for more information).
  • Purchase the limited-edition Comstock Park poster by artist Chris Bovey from
the Vintage Print NW Etsy shop
  • . Proceeds will directly fund the restoration efforts.
  • Donate to help purchase and plant trees. This can be done via the SpoCanopy website or through your City of Spokane utility bill.
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