Planting 1 Million Trees for the Tualatin River

Planting 1 Million Trees for the Tualatin River

One of the largest-scale conservation efforts in the nation is culminating in an effort to plant one million trees along the Tualatin River within the next year.

Conservation groups and Washington County officials have been working for a decade to restore the river’s ecosystem, which is struggling with warmer temperatures.

Officials discovered that the Tualatin River is now two degrees warmer than its historical average temperature, which has been attributed to a nearby treatment plant draining wastewater into it. Before reaching the river, wastewater is purified, which naturally warms the water and has subsequently warmed the river.

Two degrees may not seem like much, but it’s enough to impact the ecosystem. Warmer water contains less oxygen, making it tougher for fish and plant life to survive, which can have a domino effect on the food chain. Warmer temperatures can also promote algae growth and the spread of invasive species.

At one point the county considered installing a chilling system at the back end of the wastewater processing plant, but the option was nixed when officials were quoted a budget-busting $65 million for the project. Eventually, officials decided to do what is necessary to cool the river the old fashioned way– with shade.

Over the past 10 years, more than 4 million seedlings have been planted along the river and its tributaries, which many consider to be the biggest conservation project in the country. Now, campaigns are up and running to get another million trees planted in the next twelve months. The campaign is called “Tree for All” and efforts are being headed up by various Washington County departments, as well as Metro, Clean Water Services, and a handful of nonprofit groups.

The millions of tree seedlings being planted are grown en masse in greenhouses across the county. Most of them will be planted by contracted workers, but there are several volunteer projects in the works.

Already on Friday, Sept. 19, 300 trees were planted at Tualatin River Farm in Hillsboro by Clean Water Services and students from nearby Farmington View Elementary. And, this Saturday, Oct. 4, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey will join conservation groups and volunteers in a tree-planting event at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve where they hope to plant 2,000 trees.

If you’d like to join the mayor and crew on Saturday, the event starts at 8:30am with refreshments, and registration is not required. (Although you can register, here) Planters of all ages are welcome and no experience is necessary. Friends of Trees will be there to provide equipment and assistance.

If you’d like to get involved in other ways, visit TreeForAll.org for more information.

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