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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Clips » Volunteers, residents band together to beautify the Highlands Trail

Volunteers, residents band together to beautify the Highlands Trail

By Barbara LaBoe
The Daily News

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Longview, WA coordinates a planting of native plants in a low-income area of their neighborhood.

Volunteers, residents band together to beautify the Highlands Trail

AmeriCorps volunteers rake bark dust into place around new plants along the Highlands Trail Saturday as part of a neighborhood beautification project organized by St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.


Volunteers, church-goers and residents transformed a part of the Highlands Trail on Saturday, bringing about 160 plants to the area.

The bushes and trees were planted along the trail near Archie Anderson Park. The idea, organizers said, was to add some green space in the at-times blighted neighborhood.

“We have a lot of pretty areas in Longview, but not as many in this part of town,” said Margaret Lapic of the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s GreenFaith team. “And we really wanted to focus on some lower income areas.”

In addition to the church, volunteers from throughout the area pitched in for both planning and planting. The City of Longview cleared the area while Watershed Garden Works, Tsugawa Nursery and the Lower Columbia School Gardens program helped with the plans and the planting. Several members of the local AmeriCorps team turned out Saturday to lend a hand.

“Part of our mission is to do service projects, and this is the kind of stuff we love to work on,” said Jennie Bergman, director of the Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network. “Because we can see the difference we’re making and it’s lasting and sustainable.”

The plants were placed on the park side of the trail, on city-owned land. Ideally, the group wants to plant on the other side of the trail to create a buffer from train tracks and Industrial Way. But planting isn’t allowed by the landowners — Bonneville Power Administration and the diking district.

The Highlands Neighborhood Association helped design the project, specifically asking for plants that wouldn’t be large enough for people to hide behind. The city asked the group to avoid plants that tend to snag debris.

All of the plants selected are native to the area or native compatible. They include lavender, evergreen huckleberry and flowering currant. Native plants require less upkeep and are likely to fare better in the climate, Lapic said.

Susan McClendon goes to St. Stephens and lives in the Highlands. She was happy to help, she said, because the church has been so supportive during her husband’s illness.

“I think it’s so cool that they’re doing this,” she said while helping to arrange the plants.

Timothy Scouller lives in Vancouver now, but spent most of his life in the Highlands. When he stopped by to see a friend volunteering Saturday, he grabbed and shovel and went to work.

“It’s great to see people getting together and make it look nice,” Scouller said. “I think it’s the next step. As long as we keep getting together and doing things like this, the more things get better.”

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