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Mercer Island awarded $20,000 grant for trees

Reporter staff

As a holiday gift the City of Mercer Island will have 900 more trees by December 25th, because of a $19,953 grant from the King County Department of Natural Resources Stewardship Network.

The trees are part of an experiment designed to improve the survival of trees planted in open spaces. Since 1998, the City has been planting trees in public open spaces during the fall season to give them the best chance of survival. However, losses from several dry summers convinced City staff that they needed to make some improvements to prevent new tree planting loss.

City staff applied for and was the successful recipient of a grant from the King County Natural Resources Stewardship Network to test the effectiveness of mulch, a traditional water conservation treatment, and gel irrigation supplements, a relatively new way to supply unirrigated trees with water.

New trees will be planted at four Island sites: Mercerdale Hillside, Upper Luther Burbank Park, Island Crest Park, and Pioneer Park. The trees will be planted in areas of the park that were previously invaded by blackberry. City contractors DG Landscapes and Earthcorps have been cutting down the blackberry to make space for the trees.

Restoration Logistics will be planting the new trees and applying the treatments according to the research design. City staff will monitor the plantings for the next two years and measure the differences in growth among the trees that received different treatments. The sites will also be maintained to suppress the re-growth of blackberry during the experiment.

This project is funded in part by the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Washington Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. Other assistance was provided by Washington State University Extension -- Puyallup.

For questions about this project, please contact Paul West, Park Arborist at 206.236.3544 or via e-mail at paul.west@ci.mercer-island.wa.us.

Recycling trees

The Mercer Island boys lacrosse program will provide a Christmas tree pick-up service in December and January. Pick-up dates include Dec. 30-31 and Jan. 7-8. Donations benefit the lacrosse program and a portion will go to Youth and Family Services. To schedule a pick-up, call 232-1059.

Before getting rid of Christmas trees, a local environmental group is urging families to make sure they're clear of tinsel and ornaments. Representatives from TrashBusters, a Seattle business, also ask Christmas tree owners to forgo using fake snow or fireproofing spray. Christmas trees can only be recycled if they're bare and unadorned, otherwise they'll go to the landfill.

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