The Gift of Green

Chair of the Urban Forestry Committee Reilly Newman helped with the distribution of around 800 trees to the community on Saturday, April 2.

Pickings were anything but slim at this year’s tree giveaway as crowds of people turned out in Coiner Park last Saturday (April 2) to select their favorite varieties.

Cottage Grove is celebrating being named by the Oregon Department of Forestry as the Oregon Tree City of the Year for 2022 and this year’s tree giveaway was an extension of that celebration.

The tree giveaway is a project of the city’s Urban Forestry Committee, which works to host a giveaway event every year. 

This year’s giveaway was funded by a $6,000 grant from the Arbor Day Foundation, which allowed the purchase of 900 trees to disperse into the community — about three times more than what past events have distributed, and included more than 15 native and horticultural varieties to choose from.

The local Safeway even chipped in bags to be used to transport the bare root trees.

Chair of the Urban Forestry Committee Reilly Newman was excited to see a strong turnout at Saturday’s event.

“It’s gone over really well. People are really pleased to be able to get these trees,” she said.

The annual tree giveaway is an effort by the city to increase the urban forest canopy.

“There neighborhoods that just lack tree canopy,” said Newman. “We know that trees improve your mental health, your physical health, they reduce the heat island impact that comes with having a lot of impervious surfaces. So being able to expand that canopy for all areas is really a goal of ours from the committee.”

The event also featured informational booths of several local environmentally-conscious groups including Forest Web, Master Gardeners, First Presbyterian Church Earth and Social Justice Committee and Al Kennedy High School’s Conservation Corps.

“So not only are we improving the canopy or providing a tree for the city residents, but we’re also maybe introducing them to a local organization they might have not been familiar with before,” said Newman.

Leftover native trees from the event will be planted in their appropriate environment throughout the city while non-native trees may make an appearance at the upcoming Green Living Fair on April 23 in the Cottage Grove Armory.

Around noon, a cascara buckthorn was planted in the park, adding another tree to Main Street beautification.

Newman said she was grateful for all the volunteers and city staff who turned out for the event. 

“It’s just a great partnership between community volunteers and the city to make this event happen,” she said.

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