Mark Twain oaks – Community members turn out in droves to replant trees

May 2021 Posted in Community

By Melissa Wagoner

When horticulturist Eric Hammond, heard that the majority of the oak trees in a grove adjacent to Mark Twain Elementary School were removed after the February ice storm, he saw an opportunity. 

“I sent emails explaining the importance of the oaks from an ecological standpoint and a social standpoint,” Hammond said of the communication he initiated with the Silver Falls School District. 

“I said, the district should also take advantage of it from an educational standpoint.”

What Hammond proposed was the reintroduction of oak trees and native plants in a way that would involve students from the district but also the larger community – many of whom grieved the loss of the ancient trees. 

“We’ve lived behind here for the past 45 years so to us it has been our park” Monica Hanson said. She and her husband Jeff ventured out in the rain on April 24 to help replant the grove. 

“We watched as they took all of the oaks out of here. And now we want to plant a couple of trees to tell our grandchildren because they were sad, too. We’re excited somebody picked up the torch.”

An estimated 60 somebodies did just that, young and old, carrying pickaxes and shovels of all sizes. They dug holes in the newly barren space, planting 12-inch seedlings that will take decades to fully mature.

“It’s nice to have an interest in the future,” Hammond said. Admitting that the turnout for the event was far greater than he’d imagined. The planting established 100 oak seedlings and was the first of several the district will hold.  

The attendance was less surprising to Silverton High School science teacher Danielle Post, who arrived with six Environmental Club members. 

“This is something local and available,” she explained. “And in their lifetime, they can see the trees grow. It’s also nice to see them out here doing something, especially during COVID, at a time when they feel they have very little control. And if you look around, a lot of them have some connection to the school. So, it’s giving back to something that gave back to them.”

The small group of her students reverently placing young oak trees in the ground agreed. 

“This was a huge oak grove,” Environmental Club member Trillian Hawley said looking around her. “And they’re getting rarer and rarer. Events like this are really important because it raises awareness.”

“It’s bringing Silverton together,” fellow club member Delaney Strandberg added. “One tree at a time.”

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