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June 06, 2023
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Willamette Valley town of Halsey becomes Oregon's newest Tree City USA (Photo)
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Willamette Valley town of Halsey becomes Oregon's newest Tree City USA (Photo)

HALSEY, Ore. – The latest Oregon community to earn a Tree City USA from the national Arbor Day Foundation is Halsey. Nestled in the heart of the Willamette Valley just west of I-5 in Linn County, Halsey is the 70th city in Oregon to gain the designation as a tree-friendly community. With a population of just 952, the town is also one of Oregon’s smallest Tree City USA communities. It’s also one of the oldest, having been incorporated in 1876.

ODF administers the Tree City USA program in Oregon for the Arbor Day Foundation. ODF Community Assistance Forester Brittany Oxford explained that Halsey needed to meet four criteria to become a Tree City USA:

  1. Maintain a tree board or department
  2. Have a community tree ordinance
  3. Spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry
  4. Celebrate Arbor Day

“Halsey has successfully met all the requirements,” said Oxford. She noted that at Halsey’s first Arbor Day celebration last spring the city gave residents 60 native trees to plant provided by the Native Grounds Nursery in Brownsville. 

The city plans a similar tree-giveaway as part of their Oregon Arbor Month celebration at the end of April. The city plans to plant four trees in Halsey Memorial Park on April 29. 

Halsey Mayor said Mayor Jerry Lachenbruch said, “It is extremely exciting to be awarded “Tree City” status. The commitment to our community in general and the trees in our community specifically is much more important than one would think. We all know that trees eat the greenhouse gases that cause climate change and in doing so make our air cleaner for us to breathe, but trees do so much more. 

The City has drafted a master plan for the two-acre park on the town’s south end and is seeking a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to fund improvements at Halsey Memorial Park. 

The Park Master Plan also proposes a new park on the town’s north end. About half the space in the as-yet-to-be-named new park would be improved as a traditional park with play equipment and a small picnic shelter and lawn and shade trees.  The northern half of the property would have native plantings, including a meadow, shrubs and trees, a short walking trail, and a viewing platform. 

The park plan was completed with the assistance of the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program, according to Julia Fox, Halsey’s Community Development Coordinator this year and a RARE program participant.  She worked with a citizen committee, and a citizen survey, as well as many other resources including ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program to develop the plan.

Mayor Lachenbruch said of Fox’s work, “I am very proud of our Tree City designation and the hard work of RARE member Julia Fox”.

ODOT is currently working on Highway 99E in Halsey.  ODOT is improving the highway from property line to property line, including curbs, gutters, sidewalks bike lanes, storm drainage – and planting strips with street trees. Altogether the project will result in about 80 new public trees for Halsey, lining the main street through town. Streetside trees have been shown to calm traffic, slowing average motorist driving speeds compared to streets with no trees. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2024. 

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