Importance of trees to be highlighted in tribute
The Grants Pass Daily Courier
by Barbara Hahn
Trees are an important part of everyday life. They provide wood
for homes, tools and musical instruments and pulp for paper.
Trees provide shade, clean the air, and offer habitat for
And its time that those who plant trees be honored, explains
Wayne Fitzpatrick, who has planned a “Tree planters Tribute”
which will be displayed at the Pacific Northwest Museum of
“This is part of an educational awareness of the importance of
trees” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a tribute to tree planters and to
The tribute estimated to cost between $12,000 and $15,000, will
consist of three slate panels, with each panel more than three
feet wide by five feet tall. A relief carving on the slate, done
by a local artist, will depict a tree planter as well as the
transition a forest makes from newly planted to mature stands of
“People don’t know how hard tree planting work is” Fitzpatrick
says. “It’s a laborious, dirty job.”
Fitzpatrick knows what he’s talking about. For nearly 20 years,
he’s worked in forests from Southern Oregon to Idaho, planting
trees for the U.S. Forest Service and private contractors.
“The majority of the slopes are steep,” he says. “And before the
drought years the work was steep, wet and muddy. It rained on
you every day.”
The history of intensive tree planting in Northwest forests
probably begins with the Civilian Conservation Corps, which
during the depression years, employed out-of-work men from
across the country. Many were sent west to plant trees, he said.
By the late 1960s tree-planting cooperatives sprang up and
secured Forest Service contracts. With tree bags strapped to
their backs and hoe-dads in hand, workers planted mullions of
seedlings in local forests.
Along with the private contractors, the tribute also meant to
honor individual tree-planters, from children in the community
groups, who get out and plant trees, Fitzpatrick said.
“As far as I know, there hasn’t been a dedication to tree
planters,” he said, adding that the project is planned to be
completed by next summer.
Fitzpatrick got the idea for the tribute about five years ago,
but it was local teacher Deborah Murphy who urged him forward
with the project.
“If it wasn’t for her, this wouldn’t be happening,” he said.
Donations, which are tax deductible, also can be sent to the
“Tree Planters Statue Fund,” P.O. Box 1312, Cave Junction, OR
For those unable to donate, Fitzpatrick has a simple request:
Plant a tree in your lifetime,” he says