Rain clouds parted as Rich McConaghy dug a hole Saturday morning for a Juncus plant next to Vancouver’s land bridge. As it started on another plant, the rain returned. Shortly after, the sun came out once again.
Mother Nature gave about 20 volunteers the jobs on Saturday as they enlivened Old Apple Tree Park and the nearby land bridge with new trees and small plants in honor of Arbor Day. The city’s Urban Forestry Commission held the annual Arbor Day celebration next to the historic old apple tree, where new saplings sported a few flowers on Saturday.
“Every year we come together to celebrate Arbor Day. We’re really looking to be a testament to one of our most important natural resources – our trees,” said Jessica George, Urban Forestry Outreach Coordinator. “Trees really connect our generations and our community.”
Alongside the iconic apple tree, a group of volunteers planted seven new trees: two deodar cedars, two Douglas firs, a giant sequoia, an Alaskan yellow cedar and their last tree, an Oregon white oak.
The volunteers made quick work of planting the fresh trees and hammering in the stakes, affixed with information tags.
Attendees ranged from long-time volunteers to new ones, like 8-year-old Gabriel, who came with his grandmother Joyce Moulton. Gabriel noted how trees provide oxygen and can help curb the Earth’s warming. Moulton felt Arbor Day was a great opportunity to show her grandson the importance of trees and volunteerism.
Moulton and his grandson also came out to support their neighbor Kurt Koenig, who was one of three Mac Award honorees on Saturday for his tree care in the community. Quentin Welch and Jeff Kessenich also received this honor.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle recognized the city’s 33 years as a Tree City USA designated by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
“We all know the values of trees. We know how they keep our water clean and fight climate change,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “And now it’s part of our goal for the city to have as many trees as possible and then protect and care for them.”
Vancouver resident Jordan Endahl brought his 18-month-old daughter, Jane, to the park near the old apple tree, which he helped maintain while working with Bartlett Tree Experts. He didn’t let the rain deter him from bringing Jane, packing the toddler in a rain jacket and boots.
“It’s really cool to see all the different ways cities and communities celebrate Arbor Day. The more trees we can plant, the better for the next generation, right? he said, watching young Jane waddle through the dirt.
Several Mountain View High School students also got their hands dirty, including senior Amanda Harper and juniors Alex Lulay and Jonathan Barry.
McConaghy has attended many Arbor Day ceremonies as the city’s environmental resource manager. Despite retiring from that position, he still traveled from Washington County to mark the occasion by giving back to the community. He said it was great to see people ready to spend their time volunteering again after many opportunities were canceled due to COVID-19.
Although he planted smaller plants instead of trees on Saturday, he said, “Whatever planting you do, it helps.”