By Erik Robinson
Columbian staff writer
Vancouver, WA (June 24, 2007)- Of the thousands of trees in Vancouver’s parks and yards and along city streets, a few dozen stand above the rest. Officially recognized by the city for their size, beauty or cultural significance, each of these heritage trees is marked by a small black plaque. By and large, these are unnoticed by passers-by. City urban foresters decided there had to be a way to highlight the heritage trees, to embrace the past while promoting the city’s effort to boost Vancouver’s anemic urban canopy in the future.
However, the heritage trees are hard to notice while driving, and walking takes too long. City transportation planner Todd Boulanger came up a suggestion: Why not hop on a bike? “I talked them into this craziness,” said Boulanger, a tireless bicycling promoter.
On Thursday, Boulanger joined a group of 20 bicyclists at Esther Short Park for a tour of heritage trees scattered around Vancouver’s urban core. Ryan Durocher, the city’s urban forestry outreach coordinator, led the latest of what he hopes will be regular event every June. Alec Jackson, an 8-year-old Hough Elementary School student, was among the peddlers who turned out for the tour of downtown’s most notable trees. “I just think they’re interesting,” he said.
City foresters hope to subtly promote the planting and protection of more trees.
Based on analysis of sophisticated aerial measuring, not even 20 percent of the city is covered in vegetation taller than 7 feet. Although the U.S. Forest Service recommends twice as much tree cover, the city is shooting for a goal of 28 percent.
Even in Clark County’s most tightly packed urban environment, trees offer ample benefits. They provide wildlife habitat, soak up stormwater, release oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and reduce energy consumption by screening homes and buildings from the hot summer sun and cold winter winds.
Trees underscore the commitment of one generation to the next, said Ryan Durocher, the city of Vancouver’s urban forestry outreach coordinator. “If you think about the fact that I’m not planting for myself, I’m planting for the next generation and the generation after that,” he said.
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