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Okanogan County legislator wants tree memorial on Capitol grounds

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
The ponderosa pine is one of the tree species Rep. Joel Kretz proposes for the Capitol campus in Olympia.

Rep. Joel Kretz [R-Wauconda] introduces a measure to plant a few trees native to eastern Washington on the state Capitol campus.

An Okanogan County legislator wants to see a little piece of home on the Capitol campus in Olympia.

Republican Representative Joel Kretz has introduced a memorial to eastern Washington. He wants the state to plant a few trees native to the east side so the campus has some geographic balance in its flora.

“As you walk around you’ll see a lot of really beautiful trees from western Washington. We’ll see some from around the world, different types of trees. But there’s a remarkable absence of anything that I can find from eastern Washington in a lot of ways," Kretz told members of the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Kretz suggests the agency in charge of the campus plant one of three species.

“There’s nothing like a ponderosa pine, frankly, and the smell. Western larch is one of the very few trees that has needles, but turns yellow in the fall, which is incredible. If you ever get a chance to come to the Seventh District in October, come see it and the needles come off. For a lot of people on the west side, that’s an educational experience for them. They’ve never seen a tree that does that," he said.

As for the third, "Aspen is one of my favorites. It’s always moving. It’s a unique tree that, if there’s a breath of air, the leaves are moving and I enjoy them.”

Brent Chapman, the horticulturist for the Capitol campus, says there’s already a small stand of aspen on the grounds and a pair of apple trees. He says he wants to make sure that anything native to a drier climate has a chance to flourish on the campus.

The bill passed out of the committee Wednesday afternoon and is now on its way to the House floor.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.