Tree-planting project this spring the first projectpaid for by the late Anthony Silvers' gift to the city
By Chris Collins
The vacant lot north of the Baker County Fairgrounds on the east side of town will be a shadier, more pleasant spot after a tree-planting party scheduled for this spring.
Members of the Baker City Tree Board will be planting 25 street trees on the property to showcase improvements community residents can expect to see in coming years thanks to funding provided through the estate of a retired Baker City businessman.
The project will include installation of an irrigation system to maintain the trees, City Manager Mike Kee reported in his weekly update.
In April 2012, the city received $775,000 from the estate of Anthony Silvers to fund improvements in the city's tree inventory, Kee noted. In order to pay for a large-scale project, the Tree Board decided to wait a year to let interest in the account accrue.
The 5-acre vacant lot at Grove and D streets has been selected as the city's first effort, and will be the Tree Board's official Arbor Day project, celebrating Baker City's 29th year as a Tree City U.S.A.,said Jennifer Murphy, the city's liaison to the Tree Board.
The Fair Board has chosen five different tree varieties for the site, said Angie Turner, Fair manager.
Turner and the Fair Board staff and volunteers will take on the task of maintaining the trees. And the Fair Board will be responsible for paying the water bill to ensure they thrive.
Working in cooperation with the Tree Board, Fair Board members selected these varieties for the lot: hackberry, Austrian pine, Aristocrat pear, Skyline honeylocust and Sterling Silver linden.
The trees were chosen for their varied color and size as well as their hardiness and suitability for urban settings, Turner said.
The choices also are intended to introduce some new tree varieties to the community, Murphy said.
"We have a lot of maples, elms and birch," she said, pointing to the problem of having a large number of one type of tree.
"We had the (birch) borer come through and a lot of our birch trees have taken a hit," she said, and many of them are dead and dying.
Varying the types of trees planted would protect the city from losing a large portion of its inventory if a similar disease were to come through targeting another species, Murphy said.
The cost of the initial project is estimated at $3,500. The 25 trees are being provided by Jayker Nursery of Nampa, Idaho. The Tree Board chose the Idaho firm after it submitted the lowest of three bids. Other bids came from Ace Nursery and Oregon Trail Nursery, two Baker City businesses.
Tree Board volunteers are Clair Button, City Council representative; and Mike Clarke, Gary Marlette, Zachary Freiwald and Danny Story.
The seven Fair Board volunteers are Ron Rowan, chairman; Dean Defrees, vice chairman; Christena Smith, Michelle Kaseberg, Mark Johnson, Cynthia Norton and Cliff Schoeningh.
More information about the Tree Board, the Fair Board or the tree-planting project is available by calling Murphy at 541-524-2063 or Turner at 541-523-7881.