Camas students help ‘reforest’ town

Green Team volunteers plant nearly 100 native trees near Round Lake, Skyridge Middle School

Camas High School student Tony Lattanzi (left) digs a hole for a native tree sapling.

Camas High students gather during a tree planting event held Dec. 14.

From left to right: Camas High School students Mary Pipkin, Sierra Scordino, Elaina DeMerritt and Carla Jooste help plant native saplings on Dec. 14.

Camasonians can breathe a little easier thanks to the work of the Camas High School Green Team, which planted nearly 100 trees last week, as part of the group’s latest eco-friendly mission.

The 40 Camas students — mostly Green Team members but also a few seniors who teacher Alixandra Coker said “wanted to help with the service project and give back to their community” — who participated in the Dec. 14 event planted about 90 native tree saplings near Round Lake on Camas School District property and by the track at Skyridge Middle School.

Coker, a Camas High biology and forensic science teacher who also supervises the Green Team, said the students involved in the tree planting inspired her.

“The students were engaged, asked questions and want to make their world a better place,” Coker said. “We had a little bit of extra time, so we removed some invasive ivy to help also save some trees – the students jumped in and were so proud of their work.”

The students learned how to remove pine cone seeds to create future trees, Coker said, and how to scrape certain aquatic plants, like red dogwood, “to help them take root in a new habitat.”

“We started the day by talking about how to benefit our community in other ‘green’ ways,” Coker said. “We do plan to do another planting, but are working on details right now.”

Community members stepped up to help the students in their quest to “greenify” Camas: the owners of Nuestra Mesa in downtown Camas and of the Camas McDonald’s franchise offered discounted rates to help feed the students breakfast and lunch on the tree-planting day, and about seven people came to the students’ Dec. 8 sapling and tool drive at Camas High to lend tools like shovels and give native saplings for the students to plant on Dec. 14.

The students’ plans dovetail the city of Camas’ recent efforts to save the town’s tree canopy. City leaders recently instituted an urban trees program to protect trees in new developments and formed a committee to investigate a “heritage trees” program to protect unique trees.