By Julie Smith, Northwest GuardianMarch 7, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- How many men does it take to plant a 22-foot pine tree?
At Joint Base Lewis-McChord Monday, it took seven members of the Total Landscape maintenance team, three representatives from JBLM's property management company Equity Residential and one JBLM commander.
Colonel H. Charles Hodges Jr. helped to plant the last of 249 trees that were purchased by Equity to replace the 595 trees that were lost during a winter storm in January 2012. The storm shut down services at JBLM for several days due to widespread power outages and dangerous driving conditions.
Equity filed a $1.5 million insurance claim because of extensive damage to property and
landscaping on JBLM, and the clean up from the massive storm didn't end until last May. Crews began planting the new trees in October.
"We are reestablishing JBLM's natural beauty. After the storm last year, we lost a lot of trees," Hodges said. "It's great that Equity is reinvesting in the installation to get it back to the way it was before the storm."
Equity chose to replace the fallen and damaged trees in residential neighborhoods with mature trees instead of seedlings, effectively maintaining the aesthetics of family housing landscapes. The last tree planted on Monday -- a Douglas fir -- was in the Broadmoor neighborhood.
"What's significant about this neighborhood is that this is a historic neighborhood, so there are historic requirements," said Todd Lasko, Equity Residential managing director. "Part of that is coming in and maintaining trees that are of a historic nature, so we picked a species of tree that is appropriate. You've got to have nature as part of your community, especially in the Northwest."
Lasko said Equity tried to be strategic in its replanting efforts, since some of the trees that were damaged or fell were dangerously close to homes and other buildings. That's why the maintenance teams didn't replace all of the fallen trees, he said.
In all, 12 different species of trees were replanted just in time for the growing season.
"This shows our commitment to reestablishing the environment that's always existed here and I think that the partnership with Equity has been fantastic," Hodges said. "We're standing shoulder to shoulder on this."
Lasko said seeing the last tree planted was even more meaningful for him since Equity is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of property management at JBLM.
"It's great to have the joint base commander out here supporting us," Lasko said. "It's symbolic since it shows that Equity and JBLM do stand side by side as partners."