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ODF distributing special 'peace trees'

They were grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the close of World War II, more than two dozen Oregon communities have confirmed that next year they will be planting special peace trees distributed by the Oregon Department of Forestry in partnership with the non-profit groups Oregon Community Trees and the Medford-based One Sunny Day Initiative.

They were grown from seeds collected from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The bombing occurred 75 years ago on Aug. 6, 1945 and is also being remembered this year.

Kristin Ramstad is manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry's Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program. She said between now and next summer, the 36 peace trees (29 ginkgo and seven Asian persimmon) will be planted in 26 cities and towns across 16 Oregon counties, from the coast to northeast Oregon and from the Columbia Gorge to the California border.

Most of the seedlings are going to parks, arboretums and schools. Other sites include a cemetery and a church. The greatest number will be planted in April as part of Arbor Week.

The seedlings are not the first Hiroshima peace trees planted in Oregon. Some were planted earlier this year at Oregon State University and Lake Oswego. However, they represent by far the largest number planted in any U.S. state, according to Green Legacy Hiroshima.

Ramstad said the project is a reminder that in addition to the environmental benefits tree canopy provides in cities, trees also play an important role in bringing a community together to reflect on the more meaningful aspects of life.

"To Hiroshima residents struggling in the aftermath of the atomic bomb, seeing these battered and scorched trees leaf out again gave hope that they, too, might recover," said Ramstad. "They not only represented resilience in the face of unbelievable destruction, they have come to symbolize the desire and need for peace in a nuclear-armed world."

To find a full list of locations where trees will be planted, visit the Oregon Department of Forestry's website.