By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Members of Keizer Rotary and a battalion of about 60 community and McNary High School volunteers planted a whopping 36 trees at Keizer Rapids Parks in a little less than an hour Saturday, Nov. 4.

The trees line a walking path in the southwest area of the park and will serve a dual purpose, one for neighbors and one for the city at large, said Rotarian Mark Caillier.

“When they are full-grown they will act as a sound barrier for the neighbors, but we also selected the trees from the list of the city’s recommended trees. That means when some one is looking for a tree to put in their yard, they can come down here and be able to see what the recommended trees are and what they look like in person,” Caillier said.

Placement of the trees was also done with an eye toward future growth and avoiding becoming a nuisance to neighbors.

“We didn’t want them growing over fences or shading someone’s garden,” Caillier said.

Eventually, a sign denoting Rotary involvement and housing pamphlets identifying the trees will also be installed. The Rotarians are not finished planting either, Caillier expects volunteers to return in January to plant another 40 trees from the list.

“This all started with a call from the International Rotary president for each local club to plant one tree for every member by Arbor Day 2018,” Caillier said.

In addition to planting new trees, the crew removed older ones and discovered that many had grown root balls that were unnatural to the species, the result of poor planting when they were originally put in.

Wilbur Bluhm, Keizer’s resident expert on things green and leafy, directed the planting this time around to ensure healthier growth.

The project is being funded by the Keizer Rotary Foundation, a grant from Rotary District 5100, and the Keizer Tree Fund as well as donations from HERC and Claggett Creek Watershed Council. No Keizer Parks funding was involved.

The McNary softball team made a big contribution of volunteers as a “thank you” for the recently-completed dugouts on the varsity softball field. The dugouts were also a Rotary project.