Opinion

Here’s a deal: Trees, cheap (U-plant ‘em)

Developer Kelly Samson, shoreline rights advocate Bill Marler, and Bainbridge city officials coming together in league for the planting of trees?

Politics makes odd spade-fellows. Here’s the story:

The Kitsap Conservation District has for some years now been making bare-root seedlings available (dirt cheap, as it were) one weekend each spring, with distribution at the county fairgrounds. But our friend Mr. Samson suspected you could count on the branches of a foot-high fir the number of islanders who motor the distance to Bremerton to take advantage of an otherwise smashing deal.

Seeing an opportunity for community goodwill (and perhaps a little political mileage), Kelly tramped into the Review last week and announced his plans to bring the sale to Bainbridge – he would put up his own money and haul in several thousand young trees to be handed out in the town square. And Marler – last seen in the front row of a hullabaloo over shoreline regulations, and whether waterfront dwellers should be compelled to plant trees between their picture windows and the sound – signed on as well, pledging $1,000 of his own toward the cause.

Kelly’s next stop was across the street, to see if he could drum up support from the city. “I started wondering why the city doesn’t just give away trees if landowners are willing to plant them,” he told us. “I can’t think of a better ‘vegetation management ordinance’ than that.”

In audiences with council chair Christine Nasser Rolfes and Administrator Lynn Nordby, he found an agreeable response – so much so, that overnight the city took over the project, which was just fine with Kelly. But this is not about who gets credit; it’s about a community event that should be a success, and that ought to become a tradition.

Said the councilwoman: “It’s a great project. We’re going to be putting a lot of emphasis on stewardship and restoration of the shoreline and other critical areas. I don’t think there’s any question the city needs to step up to the plate and provide more opportunities. This was the first one.”

As we have observed in this space before, everybody around here talks about trees, but nobody does much about them until their neighbor wants to take some down. We have whole swaths of forest overrun by English ivy, but we haven’t seen much in the way of public stewardship since the last Earth Day.

But if we’re not going to care for the trees we have, we suppose there is a certain logic to starting over with new ones. Where shoreline vegetation goes, Samson and Marler fall into the camp of voluntary planting, which was their point to begin with – and which brings us back to the tree sale.

Nordby tells us the city has ordered some 3,000 bare-rooted trees and native plants from the conservation district, to be made available for resale at nominal cost in the town square on March 8. Looking at the array of varieties ordered – Douglas firs, Western red cedars, Grand firs, vine maples, red osier dogwoods, pea fruit rose, mock orange, snowberry and cascara – there should be something for all tastes.

As to the unlikely alliance that pulled the project together, Nasser Rolfes says, “That’s the way it should be, shouldn’t it?”

Hard to argue with that. So islanders, circle the date, find the spade, and plan to buy a few trees and plant them somewhere pretty. (Whether or not they end up along the shoreline is, at least for the time being, up to you.)

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