May 07, 2001 11:00 pm

Citys tree program

enhances livability

One of the things that makes La Grande stand out like an oasis in the vastness of Eastern Oregon is the trees that line our streets and bring some green to our lives. The citys tree-planting program deserves credit for helping make this a special place.

The citys tree-planting program is on the move again this year. The city provided 105 trees for planting along streets and in parks. The trees are planted at the request of property owners or to replace trees that have been removed due to hazards, insects, diseases or other problems.

The city has a waiting list of people wanting trees along the public right of way in front of their homes. The waiting period is about a year, said Brian Kelly, city forester. People who want to get on the list can call the Community Development Department at 962-1307. Homeowners are encouraged to plant the trees themselves. The city will provide training about planting and care. Volunteers will plant trees for those who are not able.

Homeowners who receive trees must sign a maintenance agreement stating that they agree to water the tree through the summer for at least the first three years. Newly planted trees need to be watered three times a week during the summer, Kelly said.

The program makes sense for a city that prides itself on livability. Year in and year out La Grande is designated a Tree City, and this year received recognition as Oregons Tree City of the Year.

For homeowners who plant trees on their own, Kelly suggests that they make sure the tree fits its growing space and surroundings. He said that he frequently encounters tree problems that result from trees being planted in a space that is too small for the type of tree. Homeowners, he said, should know how tall the species grows and how wide it will spread when full grown.

La Grandes trees make this city stand out from most others in Eastern Oregon. First-time visitors are usually surprised by how green our city is compared to others in the region.

Some of us, though, take our trees for granted. Its easy to lose sight of the beauty they afford our community, and far too many of us dont take responsibility for the care and cleanup necessary that comes with having trees on our property. Enjoying the beauty of our trees and the shade and windbreaks they provide also means that when fall arrives we should take care of the leaves so they dont become our neighbors problem.

If you want to enhance your property and you are willing to take on the responsibility of caring for a new tree, get on the citys list. We still have some gaps along our streets. The trees do lend a special attraction to our fair city.