Port Angeles to give away shade trees

Monday deadline to apply for free trees

PORT ANGELES — On Oct. 14, Paul Forrest will say good-bye to the 250 trees he raised in his City Shade Nursery when they head for their new homes around Port Angeles in a first-time program that invites residents to get their hands dirty by investing in the city’s forest landscape.

The English oak, golden rain and Japanese pagoda trees are being given away as part of the City Shade Street Tree Program, which Forrest created to help increase Port Angeles’ urban tree canopy by enlisting residents to plant trees he had grown. The last day to submit an application to receive a tree is Monday; trees will be distributed on Oct. 14.

Forrest brought his idea for the program to the city council in 2018 and it loved the idea, said Ben Braudrick, planning supervisor in the Community Services Department.

“The goals of the program align with the goals of the city,” Braudrick said. “Our comprehensive plan lays out increasing the urban canopy and urban forest in our community.”

Forrest, a retired agronomist who retired with his wife, Gail McDonald, to Port Angeles in 2013, is donating the trees and his time to the program.

In addition to the species being given away this year, Forrest also is raising Katsuatree, American red oak and Oregon white oak trees that will hopefully be ready to plant starting in 2024. All are on the city’s list of recommended street trees. Forrest and the city have tentatively planned a spring event for another round of tree giveaways.

Although most species are not native to the area, Forrest said, they best met the qualifications of being of medium-size, not producing messy fruit or nuts and lacking root systems that could buckle sidewalks.

Some are listed as invasive species in other parts of the U.S. but not in the Pacific Northwest.

After planting the trees, property owners will be responsible for their care. It will take two to three years for the trees to become established, Forrest said.

“When you adopt a tree, you’re responsible for it,” Forrest said. “Watering, pruning, leaf raking. It becomes your hobby.”

The trees can be planted only in city right-of-ways, which are typically between the sidewalk and the curb. They can’t be planted on private property or in commercial areas.

“We don’t want to compete with private nurseries,” Forrest said

Braudrick said that beyond being beautiful, trees provided valuable benefits to the city and homeowners.

“They help reduce stormwater runoff and lower the temperature and reduce energy use,” he said.

It might seem like Port Angeles has a lot of trees, but that impression is rather misleading Braudrick said.

“We have lots of streams, ravines and bluffs with trees, but when it comes to our right-of-ways, we lack a lot of urban canopy,” he said.

The city in 2011 hired a consultant that determined when the ravines were excluded, its canopy percentage was only 20 percent. The goal is to increase that to 40 percent.

The city would like to be able to replace trees it cuts down when they die, create a public safety hazard or become storm-damaged.

“Our goal is to plant one tree for every one we remove,” said Mike Healy, director of Public Works. “This program goes a long way toward meeting that goal.”

Only Port Angeles city residents can obtain a tree; tenants can participate in the City Shade Street Tree Program if they obtain permission from the property owner.

Residents can ask for up to four trees and will receive an information packet with planting instruction. A doughnut-shaped watering bag that goes around the base of the tree and slowly releases moisture into the ground will also be provided.

The young trees are around 1 inch in diameter at 4 inches above the root flare and come in a plastic garden pot (they are not bare root stock).

Individuals who have requested a tree can pick it up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the parking lot to the east of Port Angeles City Hall, 321 E. 5th St.

To request a tree or to volunteer to assist distributing them on Oct. 14, go here: tinyurl.com/ed2n2x3v. Applications can also be picked up at city hall.

For questions about the program, visit www.cityofpa.us/StreetTreeProgram or call 360-417-4570.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@peninsuladailynews.com

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