Community, Lane County, Outdoors

Easy being green: Arbor Month celebrates, promotes sustainability

A series of tree-centered events, including tree plantings, will mark Arbor Month in south Lane County following state forester Calvin Mukumoto’s proclamation that all of April is Oregon Arbor Month. 

“Trees play an essential role in the lives of Oregonians,” Mukumoto said. “Living through the extreme heat of 2021 and the isolation of the COVID pandemic has brought home to all of us the importance of urban trees to provide shade and cooling, as well as contact with nature right in our own neighborhoods. This proclamation highlights those and the many other benefits that both rural and urban forests provide to the people of Oregon.”

Scott Altenhoff, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Program said, “Arbor Month is the perfect time to reflect on the contribution trees make to our physical, mental and emotional health, to the livability of our communities, to our safety, the quality and quantity of our air and water, and to our economy.” 

Altenhoff added: “With extreme weather events becoming more common, more and more communities are recognizing trees for the role they play in moderating temperatures and slowing rainfall runoff and erosion.” 


The City of Creswell will be hosting an Arbor Month celebration on April 29 – from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Harry Holt Park. 

Reilly Newman is the projects manager with the Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council and a member of the Creswell Tree Advisory Board; for her, this project helps in more ways than one. 

“It’s a good opportunity to really care for a tree and learn how to plant it properly,” she said. “And there’s history in it too – what we see today is not always how it’s been. In the last century there’s been a boost in caring for trees, knowing your responsibility for tree care, you know to build a dream sidewalk – we’re all responsible for caring for the city.” 

At the Creswell event, there will be a tree giveaway, planting, face-painting, free food, music and booths. Celebrating the City of Creswell’s 13th year as a Tree City USA, the event is free to the public. Fourth-graders who attend will receive an Every Kid Outdoors pass which will allow them and their family free entry into any National Park.

Cottage Grove

In Cottage Grove, the Urban Forestry Committee kicked off Arbor Month with a tree-planting event, planting 10 new street trees in the park strip area on the north side of Monroe Avenue. These trees are part of the Committee’s effort to plant 50 new or replacement street trees in celebration of Arbor Month.

“A vibrant community includes Urban Forestry as a vital component of its city plans and activities,” said Debra Bartlett, Cottage Grove Urban Forestry member. “Trees offer solutions to climate mitigation, health, wellness, clean water, habitat and much more. This year, planting 50 larger trees strategically for our Arbor Day month, we’re continuing our legacy of promoting that.” 

City planner Eric Mongan said the new trees will uplift the community, as well as continue the work of caring for the city’s urban forest. 

“This is our 29th year of being a Tree City USA and our sixth year of getting a growth award,” he said. “A part of that achievement is to increase awareness of our Urban Canopy and the benefits that it provides. We’re planting in neighborhoods we’ve identified as lower incomes, where adding trees can help with things like utility bills and general quality of life improvements.” 

Newman also sits on the Urban Forestry Committee in Cottage Grove – she said she hopes the Arbor Day celebrations in both communities encourage folks to learn something new. 

“We really wanted to do an equitable distribution around town. They’re also important for property values, among other things, and so we’ve been focusing our efforts on areas of town that might not have been focused on before,” Newman said. 

Upcoming Earth Month events in the Grove include the Opal Center’s annual Trashion Show, this weekend – Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and the Green Living Fair, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Cottage Grove Armory – a family-friendly event about living sustainably with over 30 local vendors and service providers, teaching about native plant gardening, fiber arts, recycling, local farms, sustainably produced products for your home, your pets, and yourselves. 

Eric Mongan, Jeff Gowing, city staff and volunteers of all ages braved the cold earlier this month to kick off the city of Cottage Grove’s Arbor Month project of planting 50 trees before the start of May. The first ten trees were planted in the park strip area on the north side of Monroe Avenue. BOBBY STEVENS / THE CHRONICLE


Springfield got in on the fun, hosting a “propagation fair” earlier this month. The fair was co-hosted by Willamalane and Agrarian Sharing Network, promoting sustainable gardening practices and community building among gardeners.

Attendees picked up free plant cuttings and seeds, including hundreds of varieties of scion (fruit-tree cuttings) and vegetable, grain, and flower seeds. 

The fair was a part of Willamalane’s GROW Project, which provides Springfield families access to healthy eating and recreation. 

“The project is community-driven,” said Robin Orchard, outdoor leader for Willamalane. “Entry-level growers are encouraged to grow. Gardening can be intimidating, you’re worried you’re going to invest a lot of time and money into something, and it’s gonna fail. But with projects like this, there’s an easy entry point and there’s a huge community of people already involved.” 

Kevin Prior has worked with the Agrarian Sharing Network for 18 years – teaching plant lovers how to splice and propagate different fruit trees. 

“There’s all sorts of reasons to get involved,” he said. “There’s food security, and there’s a do-it-yourself attitude, because as the climate changes crops are not as reliable – and we’ve got so many varieties here, you can dial in your planting – something will go right.” 

Upcoming Earth Month events in Springfield include a composting workshop on Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon at BRING, teaching different types of backyard composting, from the basics to more complex methods and materials. NAMI Lane County will be hosting a “Mental Health & Climate Change workshop” on April 27 at 5:30 p.m. at NAMI Lane County, 129 9th St. The workshop will cover common mental health symptoms; collective and individual trauma from climate change; nervous systems effects; mental health principles; connections for shared impact and solutions; personal and community mental health resilience in a changing environment; and activities for awareness.