The non-profit Oregon Community Trees has awarded grants to La Grande and 10 other cities across Oregon to help them hold Arbor Week events this spring.

The centerpiece of La Grande’s event April 24 and 25 is the planting of a peace tree in Riverside Park. This is a ginkgo tree grown from the seed of a tree which survived the atom bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. The seed was brought to Oregon, germinated in Ashland and the seedlings distributed statewide to Tree Cities USA to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and 75 years of peace since then between Japan and the United States. La Grande is celebrating 30 years as a Tree City USA this year, and will commemorate by also planting 40 other shade trees besides their peace tree.

La Grande Urban Forester Teresa Gustafson said the grant her city received will be used to fund Grow La Grande vests for volunteers. “In addition to growing the community forest, our Grow La Grande volunteers are ambassadors for our city trees. The vests that OCT has funded will identify our volunteers at Arbor Day events and community tree planting days and help raise awareness of our urban forestry program.”

Other recipients of this year’s grants are Grants Pass, Happy Valley, Hood River, Lake Oswego, Newport, Rogue River, Salem, Sweet Home, Talent and Toledo. All have earned and held the Tree City USA title for at least eight years and several for more than 30 years, reflecting their commitment to protecting and promoting urban trees to benefit their residents.

Grants Committee Chair Morgan Holen of Oregon Community Trees says the non-profit organization promotes healthy urban and community forests. “Our grants help local governments throughout the state amplify the public outreach they are doing in their communities during Arbor Week. The plantings and other events we support are an opportunity to educate participants on appropriate street tree selections for the local climate, proper planting techniques, and post-planting tree care and maintenance.”

Holen said the organization gave a combined total of more than $4,300 in grants this year, the largest amount in its history. One criteria for receiving an Arbor Week grant is being a Tree City USA for at least a year.