Turning Blue for the Environment

Posted 03/29/12 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in America's Trails

Image: © Konstantin Dimopoulos, Photo by David Brown Photography.

If you're cycling along the Burke-Gilman Trail in Kenmore, Wash., next week and notice some new, bizarrely colored landscaping along the way, don't worry. It may not look natural, but it's all for nature.

It's an "art action" called The Blue Trees, designed to spur awareness of deforestation, according to officials with the Seattle-area arts group 4Culture, which is organizing the event.

"Trees are largely invisible in our daily lives, and it's not until it's too late that we realize how important they are to us both aesthetically and environmentally," the project's creator, Australian artist Konstantin Dimopoulos, states on his website. "Each year an area at least the size of Belgium of native forests is cleared from around the planet."

To highlight the importance of trees, Dimopoulos and a team of local volunteers will be applying a biodegradable, ultramarine-colored pigment to the bark of 40 newly planted birches along the trail near 80th Avenue Northeast in Kenmore. (Several existing locust trees in downtown Seattle's Westlake Park will also be colored as part of the project.)

Organizers stress that the mineral-based colorant is environmentally friendly. "It's perfectly safe to the trees, the insects and all wildlife," says the artist's wife, Adele Dimopoulos. It will gradually wash off the bark during the next several months.

The coloring may be temporary, but the trees along the trail are permanent. The new landscaping will help separate and protect trail users from an adjacent roadway, and also help beautify this stretch of the popular 17-mile path north of Seattle.

And hopefully The Blue Trees will leave a lasting impression. Say 4Culture officials, "In a symbolic way, the project serves to remind us how we have an impact on our surroundings and how we can all effect positive change."

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