QUILCENE — The 13th annual Plant-A-Thon saw 175 volunteers from five schools plant more than 5,000 native trees and shrubs on 7 acres on upper Tarboo Creek.
“It was the largest Plant-A-Thon ever” in terms of acreage, said Jude Rubin, stewardship director of the Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI), a Port Townsend nonprofit that coordinates the annual planting to help protect and restore Tarboo Creek and Dabob Bay.
Before the Plant-A-Thon on Feb. 2, 18 youth and 16 adults attended a special training on Jan. 26 to become crew leaders who help run the event.
The 7-acre area that volunteers restored at the 2019 Plant-A-Thon surrounds a tributary that transects a beaver pond and joins the restored Tarboo mainstem, both of which are vital for coho salmon habitat.
This year’s Plant-A-Thon site is an important stronghold for coho salmon on upper Tarboo Creek, Rubin said.
In 2006, NWI and its partners replaced a culvert there with a full-spanning bridge that allowed adult salmon to spawn in the upper reaches of the watershed for the first time in 50 years, and replanted 5 acres along the mainstem, she said.
Complementing that work was the 2006 Plant-A-Thon, which reforested the recently restored creek just downstream from the entry bridge.
In October, the Trillium Woods Farm, site of Concerts In The Barn, gained full protection under a conservation easement, a project NWI completed with landowner Leigh Hearon and the Jefferson Land Trust.
The Plant-A-Thon is not a one-day program.
In addition to planting trees, students have in-class education and field trips to learn about the connections between salmon, wildlife, shellfish, and trees.
Schools also raise funds through tree planting.
For each tree they plant, students sell a corresponding tree card at a sliding scale of $5-$10 to family and friends.
The purchaser in turn sends the card to honor someone special.
The cards have been used as holiday greetings and to recognize births, deaths, birthdays and special occasions. Businesses send them to clients. Suitors send them as valentines.
Tree cards for Plant-a-Thon 2019 feature a return of Richard Jesse Watson’s 2010 artwork, “Sharing Their Journey,” and are still available for sale.
In the illustration, children ride a Coho salmon across a starry sky, planting native seedlings and sprinkling magic.
An award-winning illustrator of more than a dozen children’s books, Port Townsend-based Watson created the ink and acrylic image for the seventh annual Plant-A-Thon.
The work is featured again this year, the first time ever that Tree Card artwork has been brought back.
Tree cards may be purchased from students and parents at participating schools, or through their school’s representative:
• Swan School: 360-385-7340.• OCEAN School – Port Townsend School District: 360-379-4251.
• Chimacum Pi Program: 360-732-4090, ext. 265.
• Quilcene Elementary: 360-765-3363.
Cards also are sold at Chimacum Corner Store, Finn River Cidery and Owl Sprit Cafe.
The Plant-A-Thon is the largest service fundraiser in Jefferson County.
In addition to the schools and NWI, several groups and individuals supported Plant-A-Thon 2019:
The presenting sponsor, Clif Bar Family Foundation provided a $7,000 grant to enable the event to move forward this year, Rubin said.
Local sponsors include Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, Kitsap Bank and Port Townsend Food Coop.
In-kind contributors include Concerts In The Barn – Leigh Heron and Alan Iglitzin, Edensaw Woods, Farm’s Reach Café, Goodman Sanitation, Little Marina Café, Olympic Art and Office, Pan D’Amore, Port Townsend Henery Hardware, Port Townsend Paper Company, QFC Port Townsend, Safeway Port Townsend, San Juan Taqueria, Sheets Unlimited, Shold Excavating Company, Star Copy/The Printery, The Candle Store, and Walmart. Anonymous individuals also contributed.
Supporting the schools with direct sponsorships and/or hosting Tree Card kiosks are Beaver Valley Store/Sugar Hill Farms; Cath Seiffert, LMP; Chimacum Corner Store; Finnriver Cidery; Heather Burns LMP; Jefferson County Noxious Weed Control Program; Jefferson Family Pharmacy; John L. Scott; Mail Plus; Marina Café; Owl Sprit Cafe; Port Hadlock Veterinary Clinic; Quilcene Henery Hardware; Quimper Mercantile; Transect Films; Twana Roadhouse and 101 Brewery, Yaks In The Cradle Farm.
Grants and donations to NWI pay for seedlings, materials and site preparation, so schools can keep 100 percent of profits they earn selling cards and soliciting business donations.
Despite the outpouring of support, NWI ran the Plant-A-Thon event this year at a financial loss, so contributions from the public are welcome. To donate, go to www.nwwatershed.org.