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Site along Barrows Road was once a fenced-off area

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Mika Tomic, right, his sons, Stefan, 2, and Luka, 7, and his wife, Svjetlana, participate in the Arbor Day event at the corner of Southwest Barrows Road and 157th Avenue.About 100 volunteers on Saturday morning flocked to what was once considered something of an eyesore — a former fenced-in storm water retention wetland area.

The planting brigade was on a mission to add 40 native trees near Southwest 157th Avenue and Barrows Road in Southwest Beaverton. The work party planted a combination of Western red cedars, Oregon white oaks and Douglas firs.

The Arbor Day celebration began with a brief ceremony where a representative from the Oregon Department of Forestry named Beaverton as a “Tree City USA” for the 20th year in a row.

In order to earn the Tree City USA designation, a program sponsored by both the Arbor Day Foundation and the Oregon Department of Forestry, a city must have a tree ordinance in place, appoint a board to advise the city on tree issues, spend $2 per capita on forestry activities and hold an Arbor Day celebration.

But it wasn’t only trees those gathered helped to plant.

“We’ve also included 100 additional native plants and shrubs,” said Jesse Batty, a neighborhood tree specialist for Friends of Trees.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Luka Tomic, 7, helps his family plant a tree by removing handfuls of dirt from a hole during an Arbor Day in Southwest Beaverton.

Batty said the city’s award for 20 years of supporting an urban tree canopy in the community was a “feather in its cap.”

Saturday’s event marked the third phase of an improvement project that began last December with an initial planting of 40 trees at the intersection. In the second phase, an additional 40 trees were planted along Barrows Road.

Removing the chain-link fence changed the landscape of the area, according to Patrick Hoff, an arborist for the city of Beaverton.

“It opened it up,” said Hoff. “It’s a lot more friendly now.”

The plaque presented to the city by the Arbor Day Foundation recognized last year’s work in establishing the Wonderland Arboretum of Native Trees and Plants at Alice Lane and Southwest Allen Boulevard, when the city planted 40 native trees and 60 native plants, according to Hoff.

He was pleased with the number of volunteers who dedicated their sunny Saturday morning to serving the community.

“This is great, it’s a lot of people,” he said.

The Barrows Road site also contains a “Welcome to Beaverton” sign and accompanying bench, both built from wood recycled from a former “tree information stand” that once stood inside Beaverton City Hall, Hoff said. Once dismantled, remnants of the stand sat idle for the past six years. After discovering they could have a second life, some varnish was purchased along with wooden letters from Michael’s, and voilá, a unique welcoming entryway into the city emerged.

“It cost us about 50 bucks,” Hoff said of the sign made of oak and fir.

Taye McMurrick, a Ridgeway Elementary School fifth-grader, said he was having fun getting his hands dirty. Many of his fellow classmates joined him in the planting effort. He noted his class recently completed a unit studying ways to prevent forest fires.

Also enjoying the day was 7-year-old Luka Tomic.

“It’s important to plant trees because they give you fresh air,” said Tomic as he helped his father dig a hole for a new tree.

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