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Bainbridge community comes together to save ailing madrona grove

Nick Benovich of Port Orchard-based business The Lawn Jockey sprays a biological treatment on a grove of madronas outside the Bainbridge Island Waterfront Park Community Center. - Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review
Nick Benovich of Port Orchard-based business The Lawn Jockey sprays a biological treatment on a grove of madronas outside the Bainbridge Island Waterfront Park Community Center.
— image credit: Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review

Back in the 1890s, Bainbridge Island was called the town of Madrone after a madrona tree that stood near the Port Blakely dock.

More than a century later, a group of citizens have come together to protect Bainbridge’s historical trees.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘We can do that!’” said Jo Schaffer.

Schaffer, along with Nancy Lewars, were on a historical tree tour last month led by resident and tree consultant Olaf Ribiero that channeled through downtown Winslow.

The last stop on the tour was a grove of 17 ailing madrona trees outside the Bainbridge Island Community Center.

Ribeiro told the small group that while the trees have been here for more than 50 years, and are the last cluster of madronas in the Winslow area, they wouldn’t last much longer.

The aging trees, he said, were suffering from a root disease that if left untreated would kill the whole grove.

Unfortunately, Ribeiro added, the treatment would cost about $2,000.

Schaffer and Lewars snapped into action.

Right there, the two began collecting cash donations from the 15-person tour group.

The group, later self-dubbed as the “Tree Huggers,” gathered the first $140.

With the help of the senior center, another $110 was collected.

Their enthusiasm was infectious.

Nick Benovich, a friend of Ribeiro and fellow tree enthusiast, joined the movement.

Benovich of Port Orchard-based business The Lawn Jockey, decided to provide the treatment to the madronas pro bono.

“This is just giving back to the community that helps our company,” Benovich said.

The groves received a biological treatment last week of six different microbial activities that Benovich said will activate the ground and get oxygen to the ailing trees.

The enthusiasm did not stop with the Bjune Drive trees, Ribeiro said.

With the help of the Tree Huggers, Ribeiro has been able to start a tree fund to save other historical trees on Bainbridge.

“I’ve had people come to my door with anywhere from $5 to $500,” Ribeiro said.

 

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