Thanks to Gig Harbor’s three Rotary Clubs (Washington, US — D 5020), Grandview Forest Park has more than 400 new trees.
On Saturday, March 3, more than 60 club members and other volunteers gathered in the forest to plant ponderosa pine, Western red cedar, Sitka spruce and red alder trees that the clubs purchased at Pierce County Conservation District’s native plant sale earlier this year.
The trees were replacements for dozens of evergreens that had to be cut down since 2015 when it was discovered they had laminated root rot, a soil-born pathogen that destroys the roots of several species of conifers.
Infected trees pose a danger because without strong, healthy roots, they can topple at any time.
The tree-planting event was organised primarily by Marilyn Hoppen, president of the Mid-day Rotary Club.
“Ian Riseley, president of Rotary International, has asked every Rotary club to plant at least one tree for each member before Earth Day on April 22,” Hoppen said.
“Ian is from Australia and is very interested in environmental sustainability. The goal is to plant 1.2 million trees throughout the world.”
Combined, the three local clubs have about 190 members “… so we actually planted about two trees per member,” Mel Santos, president of the Morning Rotary club said.
Santos was among those who dug dozens of holes in which the little seedlings were planted.
“It was an honour to participate,” added Ken Roberts, president of the Gig Harbor North club.
”Our club donated 80 trees and helped organise volunteers to plant them.”
Roberts’ club participates every year in Parks Appreciation Day, helping clean up parks throughout the city.
“This event was different because it involved purchasing, donating and planting trees in one specific park,” he said.
More than half of the Morning Club’s 15 members showed up to plant their 80 trees.
“All our trees were planted in less than an hour thanks to help from the other community volunteers and the mayor.”
The forest is “the ‘Mayor’s Park,’ because he lives just two blocks away and walks through it several times a week,” Roberts said with a smile.
“He takes special pride in this park and even though many of our club members live outside the city boundaries, we all feel connected to Gig Harbor and want to do things that help the community.”
For his part, Mayor Kuhn was pleased to see all three Rotary groups working together to get the trees planted.
“It was obvious that they didn’t care which chapter they belonged to, they all just worked hand-in-hand,” he said.
“Everything went so well and so smoothly.”
And the fact that the weather was perfect on planting day added to the satisfaction.
Prior to the actual planting, students from Henderson Bay High School arrived early to prepare a pancake breakfast for participants.
The students are all members of Rotary’s Impact Club and many stayed to help plant the trees.
“The kids did a lot of the work, making breakfast for us and then working with us on the planting,” Santos said.
“They’re really good kids and they did a fine job and I really enjoyed my time with them.
“In Gig Harbor we’re very heavy on helping our youth. They’re our future and we think it’s important to invest in them and support them in many different ways.”
The breakfast was a fundraiser for the Impact Club and the money they raised will go to FISH food bank in Gig Harbor and Bischoff food bank on the Key Peninsula, Hoppen said.
“The forest is a beautiful asset to our city and we need to take care of it,” Kuhn said,
“These trees that we all planted together will grow for many years.”
And, added Santos, “we’ll be going back to the park every once in a while to watch their progress.”