This Saturday, Oct. 25, marks the fourth annual Reforest Spokane Day, hosted by the Lands Council in conjunction with "National Make a Difference Day."
Hundreds of volunteers are expected to help plant trees along area waterways, with the goal of creating a more ecologically-healthy city.
Thousands of trees have been planted since the event's inception in 2011, according to Lands Council community outreach and volunteer coordinator Chelsea Updegrove. More than 500 volunteers took part in the event last year.
“It’s a great opportunity for community members to come out and make a difference in their very own Inland Northwest,” she says.
Updegrove says planting native trees along rivers and streams helps to increase water quality, mitigate erosion, create habitat and beautifies the city. In particular, volunteers will be planting "riverside repair trees," whose roots can handle a heavier, nearby water flow, like ponderosa pines, willows and cottonwoods.
"Essentially, the impetus was a need for the Spokane River to be more clean, healthy and viable for the future," Updegrove says. "One of the ways we can do that is by planting trees."
For this year, locations include two spots in the Latah/Hangman Creek watershed as well as Garden Springs Creek and Valleyford Park. Updegrove says this location has been the focus of Lands Council projects for some time.
"We have a grant to repair a specific number of miles in this really sensitive area, and so we tried to do this as part of projects we're already doing," she says.
While Reforest Spokane shares a date with National Make a Difference Day, there's a very specific reason the trees are planted in the fall and before it snows. Updegrove says it's better to plant trees in their dormant stage, in order to make the most of the natural precipitation in the fall. If the trees are planted in the spring or summer they can go into a state of shock as well as suffer from a lack of hydration during the Inland Northwest's dry summers.
While different species of trees have different success rates, Updegrove says "if they’re planted well and the volunteers give them enough water while planting, which usually we have very conscientious volunteers, the trees do great."
Volunteers who sign up to help this Saturday will be assigned a location, and should meet there are the event's start at 9 am. Those helping should bring a shovel, gloves and an empty gallon jug or two for watering. Coffee and treats are to be provided.
If you can't make it Saturday, Updegrove says the Lands Council is always looking for volunteers to help water the new trees as they become established, especially in the summer.
"Volunteers are some of the lifeblood of our organization," she says. "Just give me an email and I’ll put you to work.”
Those interested can register online to help out with Reforest Spokane Day.