EVERETT — Some Sitka spruces have a little more personality than others. The beauty of adopting a wild, living tree for the holidays is more about its purpose after New Year’s.
“The types of trees we plant are the kind Mother Nature has been planting,” Adopt A Stream Foundation Director Tom Murdoch said. “… These guys are special trees.”
Adopt a Stream is selling hundreds of potted trees native to Western Washington, including western red cedar, Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western hemlock and grand fir. Customers are welcome to keep the trees, Murdoch said, but many choose to return them after the holidays. Adopt A Stream plants them near a salmon stream.
The trees are available at the Northwest Stream Center until Dec. 18. They cost $40, $60 or $100, depending on size. The purchase includes a 2022 membership to the Adopt A Stream Foundation. Visitors can book an appointment in advance online.
Susan LeDeuc, a repeat customer, bought a Sitka spruce Tuesday. She plans to put the tree in front of her house, with little red balls and a bow to match. LeDeuc said she likes her tree’s unusual texture. It didn’t look like the other spruces.
“It’s beautiful,” LeDeuc said. “I haven’t seen one like that before.”
Yehsook Han, the nonprofit’s accountant, said she adopted a tree for her own home. Han decorated it with her kids and plans to return it next year. It isn’t difficult to care for, Han said, and the nonprofit sends people home with instructions.
Murdoch and the nonprofit’s ecologists also use the trees as an opportunity to educate visitors about watersheds and the importance of the vegetation near streams, called “riparian zones.” (Less than 1% of people know what a riparian zone is, he likes to say.)
“Everybody wants to help out the orca and everybody wants healthy salmon runs,” Murdoch said. “We try to inform everybody who comes here about what a riparian zone is, what its functions are and how beneficial these things are going to be.”
Larger riparian zones mean healthier streams, Murdoch said. They provide food, shade and cover for fish and other wildlife, as well as reduce erosion in waterways. The Adopt A Stream Foundation’s restoration projects help create healthier streams, improve water quality and grow salmon runs.
“I know everyone wants a white Christmas, but we’re all about the green Christmas,” senior ecologist Walter Rung said.
The Adopt A Stream Foundation intends to use the trees people return for an upcoming restoration project in Marysville. The nonprofit wants to plant 100-foot buffers on about 3 acres along Allen Creek, Rung said.
Restoration ecologist Nicole Vandeputte is managing the project.
“We’re planting the buffer to try to decrease the pollution, because trees are good at filtering out pollutants,” Vandeputte said. “… We’re just trying to restore the area.”
The Department of Ecology and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife are helping fund the project. Vandeputte said the entire project will take 1,100 to 2,000 trees.
Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.