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OAKtober – Silverton set to celebrate, save, oaks

By James Day

Silverton is celebrating the venerable oak tree during September and October, or OAKtober, as Sustainable Silverton organizers are calling it.

“OAKtober is a month-long celebration of oak trees in Silverton, of their history and what they do for us, and how we can help them, so we have them to enjoy now and in the future,” noted organizers in a press release.

Attaching new urgency to the effort for organizers was the loss of oak trees during the 2021 ice storm. Almost all of the Willamette Valley natural oak habitat has been lost since European settlement and “understanding this history is valuable for Silverton,” organizers said.

Between now and the end of October residents are encouraged to be on the lookout for Silverton’s largest oak, with girth and biomass the key metrics. Rewards are being offered for the biggest finds. See oaktober.org for competition rules and an entry form.

Two work parties also have been set to help preserve oaks and oak habitat. Both events are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Volunteers are needed to remove invasive ivy, blackberry and holly from oaks at the south end of Old Mill Park near Salamander Island and Cowing Street. This is the second work party for this region. The goal is to free the oaks and native perennials persisting under the ivy and blackberries.

Participants are encouraged to wear long pants, and long sleeves and bring gloves, pickaxes, shovels and clippers.

The second work party will target ivy at the oak grove near the skate park and the Silverton Senior Center. Participants will remove a segment of ivy vines from the base of each oak tree in the grove. This will kill the aerial, fruiting ivy. A later event will kill the ivy roots and other invasives. Volunteers should wear long pants and long sleeves and bring gloves, pruning saws, large, long screwdrivers and clippers. Still to be scheduled is a later October event in which participants can learn how to grow their own oak tree at a session in the grove north of Mark Twain School.

Go to oaktober.org for more information or email [email protected].

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