Nine trees given special recognition at Oregon Heritage Tree dedication ceremonyCapt. George Flavel and the house he built at the corner of Eighth and Duane streets have been recognized for years for their historic roles in Astoria's history.

Last week, the trees that surround the elegant home received their own special recognition. The Capt. Flavel Trees were officially dedicated into the Oregon Heritage Tree program in a ceremony Friday.

"In honoring these trees here today at the Flavel House, it gives us an opportunity to think about what heritage is, and what heritage means," said keynote speaker David Ellis.

TOM BENNETT -- The Daily Astorian

Two cypress trees tower over guests at Friday's Heritage Tree ceremony.The Heritage Tree program was started in the mid-1990s by tree enthusiast Maynard Drawson with the goal of recognizing and designating individual trees or groves of trees with statewide or national significance, educating Oregonians about the value and history of the trees and retaining and protecting them as part of the state's heritage.

The first tree designated under the new program was the Sitka spruce at Klootchy Creek Park on U.S. Highway 26 east of Seaside.

The ceremony included the planting of a new addition to the Flavel grounds, a young Raywood ash. Artist Kristin Lassen Hunt also sold copies of paintings she's produced illustrating the state's heritage trees.

The designation covers nine trees planted under the direction of George Flavel, who wanted to represent some of the variety of tree species he encountered around the world during his years of voyaging. The trees include a bay, pear, and gingko on the east side of the property, a Camperdown elm and giant sequoia on the north side, and four rare cork elms along Seventh Street.

When it comes to historical recognition, man-made structures usually get most of the attention, said Ellis, chairman of the Oregon Heritage Commission, who noted that Astoria will be the focus of two of the state's three major approaching historic milestones - the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial next year and the city's own 200th anniversary in 2011.

"But we have matured to looking beyond buildings, to looking at what is around us," he said. "It's the landscape in which we live that is a part of our heritage."

Ellis said the old trees in the yard of the historic 1850s Indiana home he grew up in were just obstacles during lawnmowing when he was young, and he never appreciated them until they and the house were gone, replaced by a parking lot.

Visitors gaze at the historic trees surrounding the Flavel House.

TOM BENNETT -- The Daily Astorian"These trees are solid, stable, reliable, dependable - they're here, we take them for granted." he said of the Flavel trees. "But try to imagine what it would be like without them - without the house, without the trees."

Mayor Willis Van Dusen thanked program organizers for the dedication, then added a bit of promotion by urging the guests to visit another of the city's old residents, the Cathedral Tree off Irving Avenue. The Heritage Tree honor helps Astoria citizens realize the statewide significance of a landmark that many locals think of as "just our house," he said.

The Flavel trees are one of four new members of the Heritage Tree program added this year that were also mentioned at Friday's ceremony. The others include the Frank Lockyear Memorial Cedar Grove, a stand of western red cedar outside Estacada planted in 1934 by a Boy Scout troop led by Lockyear. He founded ReTree International, a program that involves youth in tree-planting projects around the world.

The other honorees are the Benedictine Sisters' Sequoia at the Mt. Angel Queen of Angels Monastery, planted in 1893, and the Pow-Wow Tree, a 228-year-old bigleaf maple in Clackamas believed to have been used as a Native American gathering place, and which marked the site of the first Oregon State Fair in 1861.

A seedling from the Pow-Wow tree was presented to Clatsop County Historical Society Director MacAndrew Burns.

The Flavel trees were nominated for the state program by Lisa Studts, the historical society's curator of interpretation. The society learned the trees had been chosen late last year.

"You just can't picture the Flavel house without the trees," Burns said.

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