From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Homestead Park Mercer Island will have the city’s second annual Arbor Day celebration as an official Tree City USA.
The event is in partnership with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (MTSG).
“This is a celebration of the city’s effort to have a healthy and sustainable urban forest in the city,” said Kim Frappier, natural resources specialist. “It’s really a wonderful community event that’s bringing in different people from the community.”
About 75 volunteers will plant trees and shrubs at the park. They will also remove invasive plant species and spread mulch. Registration for working the event (volunteering and doing the actual tree planting) is full, but anyone is still welcome to attend the free event.
“In addition to environmental stewardship there’s also the community building aspect of this event which I feel is really important and a critical component of forest stewardship in the city,” Frappier said. “That it really fills an important need of bringing people together, making a difference in their community and creating a healthy environment for the city.”
There will be a planting ceremony with Mayor Debbie Bertlin at 12:30 p.m. There will also be an informational booth from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department as well as the MTSG.
“We would love to have people stop by and learn about what we do,” Frappier said.
Participants will receive Pagliacci Pizza for lunch. There will also be granola bars donated by KIND. A local church will provide fruit.
The event kicks off the fall plant season on the Island, and there will be additional planting events soon. For more information, go online to www.mercergov.org/foreststewardship.
Frappier explained the importance of having a healthy forest and why the city is so invested in urban forest restoration.
“Basically, a healthy urban forest provides valuable environmental, economic and human health benefits. Trees and forests clean our air and water, provide shade, reduce flooding and erosion, provide wildlife habitat and mitigate the effects of climate change,” she said.
She said people who are unable to attend the event can still participate on their own. They can plant a tree in their yard or remove invasive plant species such as English Ivy or Himalayan blackberry.
“In addition to planting trees, which is very important, protecting our existing canopy is really critical, especially in the Puget Sound region, and a big way we can protect our existing canopy is by removing invasive species,” Frappier said. “Arbor Day can be about protecting what we already have as well as planting trees that will become the future forest.”
She said she is thankful for everyone involved with the event and for volunteers.
“We’re really proud of the work we’re doing here and really grateful to the community for all of their support. In addition to celebrating Arbor Day this is also a great way to celebrate our volunteers,” she said.