Free the Trees

                When volunteers Howie O’Brien,  Art Ellison, Jim DeRoy, Marilyn DeRoy, and Denny Johnson planted several hundred cedar seedlings just west of the Hansville Greenway about 12 years ago, they hoped the trees would slow the rampant growth of berry bushes that threatened to overtake the trails, especially after the land to the west was logged.

                “Some of those trees are not much bigger than when we planted them,” Howie, the Greenway’s projects manager, says now. “They’ve been overgrown by salmonberry and blackberry bushes and aren’t getting any sun.”

                Last year, during the Day of Caring event, 60 trees were freed, cutting away the tenacious berry bushes to allow tree growth. This year, they’re asking for help to free 100 more cedars.

                “We hope for 20 to 25 volunteers with hand clippers or loppers and good gloves because we’ll be dealing with brambles,” Howie says.

                The struggling trees are in the northwest sector of the Greenway between an old road-turned-trail and a hundred-acre section added to the west a few years ago.  They cover about a half-mile stretch.

                Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. on April 20 in the Buck Lake parking lot and work until about noon or until the 100 trees are freed. The work will include cutting and pulling but no digging. Kitsap County will provide some cutting tools. Volunteers who bring their own need tools that can cut through thick berry branches.

                Howie recommends bringing water and wearing sturdy clothes, thick gloves and boots for the workday.

                “There will be a little mud,” he says. “But there is a ditch for drainage.”

                The cuttings will be tossed into the blackberry forest on the east side of the trail where they will decompose.

                To volunteer, contact Howie at

Cynthia Taggart