Posted on November 18, 2013 at 7:55 AM
Monday, Nov 18 at 8:00 AM
SPOKANE, Wash. – On an overcast Thursday morning in November, a team of five inmates at the Geiger Correctional Facility potted 250 young ponderosa pine trees.
The trees are the beginning of a new nursery at Geiger and a new partnership between the Lands Council and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department called The Green Sleeves Project.
“This would’ve taken us at least a full day,” The Lands Council Watershed Program Director Amanda Parrish said. “We’ve been out here for about 45 minutes and the work’s almost done.”
In the past, The Lands Council only had the space to store between 1,000-2,000 trees. Now, Geiger Correctional Facility has dedicated a three-acre section for the new nursery that Parrish estimates could hold close to 30,000 trees.
The potted ponderosas will spend the winter dormant outside the Geiger facility, but come spring, the offenders will take on the job of weeding, watering and pruning the trees.
“The idea is to fill these guys’ schedule with important things,” Geiger Corrections Officer Zachary Crawford said. “If they can stay busy with work and with class, with treatment and their off-time activities, the better off they are.”
Geiger Correctional Facility will act as a staging area for plants to mature before they are planted on public land across Spokane County. The young trees will likely spend two years at Geiger maturing their root systems before they leave to be planted permanently. Some of the trees will go out to rural creek beds like Hangman Creek. Others could become a part of urban storm gardens in the Spokane area.
Those involved in The Green Sleeves Project believe our public lands and offenders can equally benefit from the partnership.
“It’s a perfect example of good collaboration and of leveraging resources to do something good for everyone in the community,” Parrish said.
“Even though they are locked up and they’re doing their time, they’re providing for their community,” Crawford said. “A lot of those guys take a lot of pride in that.”