Fig Tree Logo

Lands Council partners to plant trees in SpoCanopy Project

Amanda Parrish says trees maintain planet's equilibrium. Photo courtesy of The Lands Council


The Lands Council is partnering with the City of Spokane and Spokane Conservation District in the SpoCanopy Project from May 7 to 11 to plant trees during the Expo 50th Celebration.

"Trees are our partners in maintaining the equilibrium of our planet's environment," said Amanda Parrish, executive director of The Lands Council. "Trees will help the city be cooler to counter climate change."

The trees will be tagged as part of the "Expo Forest," leaving a legacy just as the World's Fair in 1974 left a legacy for its environmental theme.

"It's the first tree planting using funds from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2023," she said.

That act provides $1 billion in grants to increase "access to trees and green spaces in urban and community forests where more than 84 percent of Americans live, work and play."

The city and conservation district received $6 million each for planting, maintenance and workforce development to expand urban forests. Both are partnering with The Lands Council for the next five years to plant 1,000 trees a year—500 in the spring and 500 in the fall. The goal is for every neighborhood to have 30 percent canopy cover by 2030.

While the spring 2024 effort with the Expo 50th celebration will be volunteer, the Spokane Conservation District is working with Community Colleges of Spokane to develop apprenticeships as workforce development.

"We will always have volunteer opportunities, because we want to connect people to the project, but much of the planting will be done by apprentices," Amanda said.

Many of the trees are ponderosa pine, a native species. In the city planting strips, there will be approved street trees bred for disease resistance and root structure, like ginkgo and elm.

"For planting, we are targeting low-income neighborhoods where canopy cover is below average and there are environmental disparities. Much is in Northeast Spokane," she said.

According to The Lands Council, street trees benefits include stormwater mitigation, keeping the Spokane River clean, providing habitat for urban wildlife, increasing property values, providing shade, decreasing energy use and lowering the temperature on the streets, sidewalks and overall. Trees also help boost immune systems by reducing pollution and air-borne particles.

In addition, studies show that time in nature and around trees can reduce stress.

Volunteers will help for two to four hours, meeting at sites in a park or along the Appleway Trail for instructions in tool use and safety. Shovels and gloves are provided. Volunteers are to wear appropriate clothing and closed-toe shoes. Each group will be trained and have a captain.

"It takes two hours for one person to plant a 10-foot tree, so volunteers work in teams," said Amanda, adding there are opportunities to sponsor, because the funding covers only trees and staff time.

Amanda, who grew up in San Diego and earned a degree in environmental studies from the University of San Francisco in 2008, has worked with The Lands Council for 15 years.

She came to the Inland Northwest after graduation to do seasonal work in forestry with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe before starting at The Lands Council, where she has worked on beaver relocation, watershed restoration and planning, and operations. 

"My philosophy in conservation work is that part of its success is when we welcome everyone to be part of caring for the environment," she said. "Everyone cares that we have clean air and water for a healthy society.

"I help them connect to efforts that reignite their values. We always invite people to join us in our work as a way to bridge divisions," she explained.

Once trees are planted, residents are required to maintain them, watering in the summer and fall, and pruning as the trees mature.

The funds for SpoCanopy come through the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, administered through the state Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Amanda believes people play an important role in transforming society as they reconnect to their natural home.

For information, email or visiting

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, May 2024