The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Tree Committee Hears About Urban Forestry Project

The new youth club will be part of Rural Youth Enrichment Services


Dena Martin

A Dept. of Corrections crew was busy trimming trees on Waitsburg's Main Street Monday morning. The city hires the crew on a monthly basis as an economical way to tackle projects the city crew doesn't have man hours to cover.

WAITSBURG – The July 6 Waitsburg Tree Committee meeting was short and sweet. Committee chair Kevin House, andmembers Ethan Carpenter and Kate Hockersmith briefly discussed current and upcoming tree-related projects and agreed to meet again in October.

The committee was pleased to receive confirmation from Hockersmith that the Rural Youth Enrichment Services nonprofit organization voted "yes" to adding the Urban Forestry Project to their umbrella of enriching youth activities. Currently, RYES is the parent organization for the Touchet Valley Acoustic Music Project, the Giant Pumpkin Project, Friends of the Waitsburg Pool and Open Studio Art for Kids.

The Urban Forestry Project will be an offshoot of the Tree Committee, but will have a different focus and will be geared to kids. The group is still in the conceptual phase, and has yet to hold its first organizational meeting, but Hockersmith has several ideas, already.

"The plan for now is to make a walking map of Waitsburg's old trees and to look into a registry for heritage. And we also want to do a tree planting and celebration with the school children in the district for Arbor Day," Hockersmith said.

"The goal is to meet all the requirements that are necessary to allow Waitsburg to be part of the Tree City USA program. The city Tree Committee deals more with regulations and the legal aspect of things," she added.

Hockersmith reported to the Tree Committee members that she will begin publicizing the group soon, and is hopeful that someone will be interested enough in the concept to step up and serve as the group's director. She said RYES board member Kathy Carpenter did include the group in the RYES grant application to the Blue Mountain Community Foundation.

Ethan Carpenter reported that Pacific Power had been at work trimming trees and brush on the north side of the Main Street Bridge, in Wait's Mill Park (formerly Rankin Park).

"The good thing is that everything in that park is relatively youthful," he said.

Carpenter also commented that several large branches had fallen in the city park, and questioned the health and longevity of the trees saying they "definitely need attention." City Manager Randy Hinchliffe had expressed the same concern at June's city council meeting where he reported that a large chunk of one tree had fallen.

The committee briefly discussed trees that need trimming on 2nd and Bruce Streets and the possibility of tree removals required with the new sidewalks going in on E. 7th Street this summer.

Hockersmith said she didn't believe any trees were slated for removal during the sidewalk replacement, at this time.


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