By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Kindergartners beautify Amity park

Submitted photo
Amity kindergartners plant trees in the city park.
Submitted photo
Amity kindergartners plant trees in the city park.

So, years from now, on a day when they bring their own child to the city’s Doris M. Burns Memorial Park, they can proudly tell them they helped one or more of the 60 tree planted Monday morning take root.

“This takes learning to the real world,” Principal Danielle Luckwick said, as groups of kindergartners moved about the park, planting trees with assistance from city workers, parents, teachers and other volunteers.

In September 2009, the city council decided to remove 63 of the more than 200 mature Douglas firs that graced the park. Forty-five of the trees were diseased and the other 18 had to be removed to provide better access to infected trees and clear an area for additional parking.

In addition, 15 oak trees were removed to provide more room for playground equipment.

Garner Timber Services in Yamhill determined the diseased trees had contracted a fungus that creates decay, or conk. The city received $85.40 per 1,000 board feet of the salvageable portion.

“There has been a commitment by the city council that trees would be replanted in the park,” City Administrator Larry Layton said. “A few have been planted occasionally. This is the first big planting.

Layton said the City Council Community Development Committee, headed by newly-elected councilor Caralyn Miller, organized the project. “We’re not sure all of them will live, but this was the plan and we decided to implement it,” he said.

Amity kindergarten teachers Annette DeRaeve,  Kim McMullen and Chris Morris jointed Laugle in looking for an Arbor Day/Earth Day project. They felt the tree planting project was a perfect fit.

Santiam Christian  students were interested in a community project as well, so they volunteered to work alongside the kindergartners, according to Layton. Amity Mayor Michael Cape works for Santiam Christian, based at Adair Village, just north of Corvallis, so it was a natural.

“One of my favorite childhood memories is of planting a tree when I was a child and watching it grow along with me,” Miller said. “I still visit that tree when I go home and it reminds me of growing up in Oregon.”

Miller said she’s grateful the city had an opportunity to create similar memories for the Amity students. She led a group of four kindergartners around the park, accompanied by a mother. The kids received planting instructions.

“They were very gentle with the trees,” Miller said. “One of the kids found a worm and wanted to save it. They were told worms are good for the soil.

“Someone else found a beetle and wanted to kill it. They were told there are good and bad beetles.”

In addition to Miller, Rudy Van Soolen is another councilor who took a keen interest in the project. He heads the parks and streets committee and is a longtime councilor and former Amity Police Chief.

Van Soolen said he believes the students who helped plant trees will take pride in them as they get older and want to care for them. That’s such a positive aspect of this experience.

Ludwick said the kindergartners are studying life cycles as part of their science curriculum. For example, how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. They’re also exploring life cycles of trees.

Laugle called the tree planting project an extension of Arbor and Earth Day. Kindergartners have also been picking up trash around the school located on Rice Lane. They have teamed with fifth graders in a community garden project, too.

Amity Public Works Director Matt Johnson and his crew rented an auger and drilled holes throughout the park. Kindergartners helped set the trees in place and pack dirt around the root ball.

The trees were donated by a Yamhill County nursery that wanted to remain anonymous. A nursery employee said two species were donated, red oak and burr oak.

Red oak is native to the much of the United States and portions of Canada. It grows from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia and south as far as Georgia. It grows to a height of 90 to 140 feet and width of 20 to 40 inches.

Burr oak is native to the East and Midwest in the United States and south-central Canada. It grows to a height of 100 to 120 feet and a width ranging up to a massive 10 feet.

“The city wanted some native Oregon trees,” the nursery employee said. “We didn’t have any, so these were a substitute.

“They’re not something natively grown, but these oaks will take form and take off. They are two nice selections.”

The trees will establish root systems in the first year, become acclimated to the site and begin taking off next year.

Replanting with Douglas firs was never a consideration, Layton said, because the fungus is widespread in the area.

“The nursery people said to avoid the same species,” he said. “They said these trees are hearty and they will do well.”

As soon as the trees were planted, the kindergartners headed for nearby playground equipment. That was followed by lunch at the park.

Ludwick said the day served as their spring field trip. They went to Heiser Farms on Grand Island last fall.

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