One million trees and counting along the Tualatin River

By Doug Beghtel
Cornelius, OR (October 11, 2007)- On a cloudy October workday, Sherrill Juneman has left her banker’s job behind and is planting twin berry shrubs on the banks of the Tualatin River. Volunteer Marco Di Giacomo tends to the roots of a small tree before planting it Tuesday along the Tualatin River in Cornelius. SOLV organized the effort, which brought more than 200 employees from HSBC Bank in Tigard.

“We all care about what happens to the environment,” Juneman says, as she pats a black mulch doughnut around a 3-foot-tall shrub. “It’s great to do something to improve it. It’s where we live.”
The effort by Juneman and more than 200 other employees from HSBC Bank in Tigard was the latest example of volunteers planting trees and shrubs to help the Tualatin River recover from wastewater poured into it by the county’s sewer agency. Such environmental “trading”- doing something positive for the environment to makeup for pollution- is becoming more common among utilities and other industries.
Since 2004, Clean Water Services, along with government partners and volunteers, has planted 1.2 million trees and shrubs in Washington County. And the goal is to keep on planting- perhaps another million in the next two years.
This was Clean Water Services’ dilemma: Effluent pouring from sewage treatment plants in Durham and Hillsboro warms the river. That stresses native steelhead and cutthroat trout and other fish who like the water nice and cold. Plus, the agency needs to meet permit requirements from the Department of Environmental Quality, including water temperature.
“We thought about ice in every toilet, but that’s probably not practical,” says Mark Jockers, a spokesman for the agency, which serves about 500,000 customers in urban Washington County and small portions of Multnomah and Clackamas counties, Lake Oswego and Portland. One option was to spend an estimated $150 million to build and operate refrigerated “chillers” for the next 20 years.
Clean Water Services leaders decided instead to plant trees. The cost since 2004 has been about $3.8 million, says Peter Guillozet, a water resources project manager with the agency. A 20-year cost estimate was not available.
Clean Water Services plants only native trees — Oregon ash, Oregon white oak, cascara and big leaf maples — and native shrubs, such as twin berry, snowberry and red elderberry. The plants come from seed collected in the Tualatin River Basin and are grown at Scholls Valley Native Nursery south of Hillsboro and Brooks Tree Farm in Brooks. Under a new contract, Champoeg Nursery also will begin growing plants. “They are truly local native species,” Guillozet says.
About half of the trees are planted through the agency’s capital stream restoration projects; 40 percent are through incentive programs that pay Washington County farmers and other rural land owners to “shrub up” their stream corridors; and 10 percent are through community-based tree-planting challenges, dubbed “Tree for All.”
The community-based programs set annual planting targets for all the cities in Washington County. Many of the projects, like the one this week involving HSBC Bank, are coordinated by SOLV. Friends of Trees and Pacific University also have organized volunteer tree plantings.
For the full story, visit The Oregonian.
Related Resources:
Clean Water Services
Friends of Trees