ON MARCH 21, Nancy MacKerrow planted a tree to mark the 5th anniversary of the death of her daughter, Susie Stephens. Many remember Susie as one of our area’s most dynamic outdoor activists, or as an avid cyclist, or as one of our most enthusiastic supporters of alternative modes of transportation, or as one of our closest friends. But no matter how we may remember her, Nancy’s work reforesting Spokane in Susie’s name continues to ensure that we will remember her-and for a very long time.
This new planting (the first new tree this season) is a Ponderosa Pine and is located in the Veteran’s Court of Riverfront Park (just Northeast of the Monroe Street Bridge).
This isn’t the first tree Nancy has planted in her daughter’s name, nor will it be the last. Nancy says that though she hasn’t kept an exact count, she is directly responsible for approximately twenty-five new trees planted in Spokane’s urban forest over the past five years, and she has motivated others to plant trees as well, bringing the total near forty. Nancy has informally dubbed her plantings the “Susie Forest,” and the trees can be found flourishing in many of Spokane’s city parks.
Susie Stephens was once a leader for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, a member of The Thunderhead Alliance, and could usually be found on or near her bicycle. She grew up in Spokane, visited here often, travelled all over the world (including a bicycle trek across Australia) and was living in the Methow before her death.
Trees seem a fitting legacy for someone as active and involved in the outdoors as Susie. Decades from now, the Susie Forest will still be living, and will still be helping to filter airborne pollutants, conserve energy by shading buildings, reduce storm-water runoff, fight the greenhouse effect by removing atmospheric carbon dioxide, reduce soil erosion, modify local climate, increase economic stability in our region, reduce noise pollution, and improve wildlife and plant diversity.
April is Urban Forestry Month in Spokane. For info on starting your own forest, or on participating in tree-planting activities throughout the month, contact the Spokane Parks Department (509) 625-6200) or the Lands Council (509) 838-4912.