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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spocanopy and the Lands Council plant 500 trees in honor of Expo ‘74

Spokane greenspace added 500 new trees this week.

As part of the Expo ’74 50th anniversary celebrations, volunteers planted 100 trees a day from to Tuesday to Saturday in the West Central and Emerson Garfield neighborhoods, at Spokane Conservation District and along Appleway Trail in Spokane Valley to create an “Expo Forest.”

It’s an homage to the mature trees in Riverfront Park that were planted for Expo ’74 and part of a larger effort to increase Spokane’s tree cover.

A $6 million U.S. Forest Service grant from the Inflation Reduction Act has fully funded SpoCanopy, a program by Spokane’s Urban Forestry office in collaboration with the Lands Council, whose goal is to grow Spokane’s tree coverage to 30% by 2030.

The volunteers Thursday planted native ponderosa pine and western larch saplings on a hillside at the Spokane Conservation District campus in Spokane Valley. The site is a former asphalt rock quarry with exposed boulders and a gravel pit at the edge of Dishman Hills forest.

“It was a heavily used industrial site we are in the process of restoring,” said Matt Stewart, quarry stewardship coordinator for the conservation district.

The trees will prevent erosion and add needed green space near the East Central Neighborhood.

“This is a special example of an urban forest,” said Justyce Brant, restoration coordinator for the Lands Council. “It is such great habitat competing against such intense development pressure.”

More trees, clean air and water reduce anxiety and help cities stay cool.

Over the last five years, SpoCanopy has planted up to 200 trees a year: half in the spring, half in the fall. With the new funding, they will plant closer to 1,000 every year, executive director Amanda Parrish said.

The funding has also expanded the program beyond Spokane city limits into the county, including parts of Medical Lake that lost trees during the Gray fire.

Residents in high-need neighborhoods can request a free tree from the program.

Thursday’s volunteers included employees of Ag West Farm Credit, which supports its staff with volunteer hours every year. Lisa Johnson said the event was well-organized and a nice way to spend time outside. Her colleague Zachary Pearson agreed.

“The first time I did it,” Pearson said, “I was two weeks into the company, and it was a great icebreaker for the whole team.”

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.