Autumn is a wonderful season for trees, and Spokane is an equally wonderful place to celebrate them.

As you may recall, Spokane was walloped with a windstorm of historic proportions approximately one year ago in November 2015. The city’s Webster Park and surrounding neighborhoods in Northwest Spokane were hit particularly hard, resulting in downed trees and a reduction in tree canopy coverage.

When the Washington Community Forestry Council (WCFC) decided to hold their October meeting in Spokane, they saw it as an opportunity to help the city restore their urban forest as a celebration of Urban and Community Forestry Month. On Tuesday, Oct. 18, some 40 new trees were planted in three locations, including Spokane’s Webster Park.

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Patty Danner, a Spokane conservationist, center, blue, throws a shovel of dirt on a newly planted Japanese tree lilac during a public ceremony on Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016, at Webster Park in Spokane, Wash. (Photo by Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Representatives from Avista Utilities and other Tree City USA communities in the region also attended this event, including Colfax, Fairfield, Farmington, Liberty Lake, Millwood and Ritzville. Washington’s State Forester, Aaron Everett, was on hand to thank these cities for the work they do, and to offer his sincere appreciation for those advocating for healthy urban forests in the Spokane area.

Forty trees were planted because 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Program. Spokane has been recognized as a Tree City USA for the last 13 years. In addition to all the awards and accolades, some of the trees planted became part of the Susie Forest.

The Susie Forest is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Spokane that works to plant trees with greater meaning attached to them. Susie Trees are trees that celebrate, commemorate or memorialize, so it was only fitting to help grow the Susie Forest as part of this celebration.

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Ed Lester receives the Urban Forest Stewardship Award from WCFC member Cindy Deffe. Photo by Linden Lampman / DNR

The following day, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, the WCFC held its October meeting at Finch Arboretum in Spokane. As the council paused for lunch that day, they recognized another local tree advocate, Ed Lester, by presenting him with their Urban Forestry Stewardship Award.

Ed Lester is a retired orthopedic surgeon with a relentless passion for trees and forests. He and his wife Kay own two tree farms in Washington, which are frequently used as outdoor classrooms to teach students, master gardeners and other forest landowners about forest stewardship. Ed volunteers with the Spokane Master Gardeners to teach classes on tree identification and has designed and led numerous tree walks in Spokane. He is particularly interested in trees that may be the oldest, largest and rarest for their species, so much that it drove him to write a 600-page book about such noteworthy trees in the greater Spokane area. Considering these and his other accomplishments, it comes as no surprise he should be recognized by the WCFC as well.

So…

To the elected officials, staff, non-profit groups, volunteers, advocates and other urban forestry stakeholders in the Spokane area, THANK YOU for all of your hard work on behalf of trees.