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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

A blog highlighting Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry news and activities 

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Interview with Golden Diameter Tape Award Winner Louis Miles

by Jen Gorski

In 2010, PP&R Urban Forestry began the Tree Inventory Project to empower neighborhood groups to care for their urban canopy. Since then, 29 neighborhoods have partnered with Urban Forestry to inventory their street trees and create action-oriented management plans. Volunteers have identified, measured and mapped more than 100,000 trees so far!

Urban Forestry celebrates their accomplishments each year, and selects one volunteer in particular who has gone above and beyond to support the project. The recipient of this year’s Golden Diameter Tape Award honor is Louis Miles from the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood. UF staff interviewed him to find out more about him and his love of trees. 

Q: How did you get interested in trees?Tree

Lou first rented an apartment in Ladd’s Addition, and while walking to the bus to go to work each day, kept noticing a For Sale sign on a house.  He has lived in that house for the last 30 years, and moving into the neighborhood is where his interest began.

American elms were first planted in Ladd’s Addition in the 1910s and they unfortunately started becoming afflicted with Dutch Elm Disease (DED) in the early 1990s. Ladd’s Addition focused on preventing the spread of DED by starting the non-profit Save Our Elms. Save Our Elms began inoculating neighborhood elms to fight DED in the 1990s, and since 1997, its members have also planted 347 street trees to replace failing elms and other trees in poor condition. The neighborhood is now way ahead of most other Portland neighborhoods with 92% canopy cover! Save Our Elms next street tree planting is March 7, 2015, visit the Save Our Elms website for more information!

Q: What inspired you to work with trees?

Part of the draw to become part of the neighborhood is the beauty of the American elms lining both sides of the street. Lou liked the formal look that the uniform lines of elms gave the neighborhood, and he became invested in ensuring that this look was preserved. He saw that the elms needed care and became involved with Save Our Elms, a neighborhood group that inoculates trees against DED to preserve them for as long as possible.

Q: How do you benefit from volunteering?

Lou gets to know his neighbors because he goes door to door to see if they are interested in having a street tree planted adjacent to their property. Save Our Elms is also a fundraising organization that raises donations every year to inoculate elms and also purchase, plant and care for approved new trees. Homeowners only need to agree to the species of trees the group recommends, and the initial work is done for them. Trees bring the neighborhood closer together and are the glue that creates a unique bond in Ladd’s Addition.

Also, Lou likes learning about the trees; it’s always an adventure!

Q: Can you tell us more about yourself?

Lou retired as a public defender for the State of Oregon, where he worked for 29 years. The first 7 years he commuted to downtown Portland, but in the last 22 years he was based in Salem.

It was a long commute but the fact that he was able to do some work at home was really helpful. He researched cases from trials and looked for errors in the rulings. Unfortunately he did not have the added benefit of attending the trials to observe all the clues gleaned from people’s body language. Needless to say, he knows the law extremely well and is good at analysis.

Lou also sings baritone every week in the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. They have a holiday concert planned for December 5, 6 and 7. Their website is

Q: What tree activities would you like to get involved with in the future?

Urban Forestry’s tree inventories and the neighborhood association Save Our Elms. Lou would like to contact landlords in Ladd’s Addition, an activity which has proved particularly challenging because many do not live in the neighborhood. It can be time consuming to successfully initiate contact with absentee owners.

Q: What are some favorite trees you discovered?

American elms, Kentucky coffeetrees and oaks.

Q: What were some of your favorite tree events?

Friends of Trees pruning workshops and Urban Forestry’s tree inventories.

Lou likes being outside far better than being inside and likes to focus on walking in safe, friendly areas that are set up with sidewalks. His favorite areas are closer to downtown Portland where street trees are concentrated.

Q: Is there anything you would like other volunteers to know?

How much fun it is to inventory trees! It’s especially fun to find tree species that aren’t so common and then figure out what they are.

Q: Is there any way you think Urban Forestry can improve the program?

It’s very good, as is. Volunteers get to do fun stuff because Urban Forestry staff have done the leg work to ensure things are well run.

Join the Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry team!

Urban Forestry Staff

Permitting Office Assistant (Community Services Aide II)

Now - June 2015. 40 hours per week.

The CSA II will have significant administrative responsibilities including running reports, spreadsheet management, scheduling appointments, responding to phone calls, taking notes at meetings, sending weekly reports and preparing/editing documents.  Additionally, they will be largely involved in the creation of a tree inspector manual to include standard operating procedures and protocols.  The manual creation will include interviewing various City staff to understand Urban Forestry Tree Inspector processes and effectively conveying those processes in writing.  Position to include other tasks as assigned.

To apply: Send resume and cover letter to Casey Jogerst Position is open until filled.

Tree Care Workshop Instructor (job class: Community Service Aide II)
$15-$22/hour depending on experience
January – June. Part time and dependent upon scheduled volunteer events. Most events occur Saturdays and work from 7 am – 3 pm will be common.
The CS Aide II will help teach and lead volunteer work parties for community groups conducting street tree maintenance activities. This position requires a solid understanding of basic tree care and arboriculture principles, including how to properly plant and prune trees, as well as tree identification skills. The position will work directly with UF staff and AmeriCorps members to conduct stewardship events, including tree walks, tree planting, tree pruning, and other educational events. The ideal candidate has good public speaking skills, experience working with trees, understanding of Portland’s tree codes, and a passion for working with communities and volunteers. Organization skills, ability to work independently, and flexibility are also desired. Valid driver’s license with clean record required. Must be available for work on Saturdays when events are scheduled.
To apply: Send resume and cover letter to Angie DiSalvo by December 15. For inquiries please email or call 503-823-4484.


Arbor Lodge Community Tree Planting

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By Arbor Lodge Tree Stewards Liz Stevenson & David Taylor

Omaha tree planting

Back in September 2009, some city crews came through and chopped down our elm trees in front of our house because they were infested with Dutch Elm Disease. These elm trees had been planted in the 1950s, and provided a spectacular canopy in front of our modest homes in Arbor Lodge. The elms were one of the reasons we were attracted to buying our home, so when they were gone, a great gaping hole in our world was created that, frankly, made us want to cry.

But soon we were not alone. Within a week several neighbors, many of whom we did not know before this incident (although we’ve lived in the neighborhood for 13 years!), sent a flyer around the block wanting to organize and do something about losing our trees. We heard that the City wasn’t going to replant. We offered to have the meeting in our home and we were surprised by how many neighbors showed up (about 30!) to talk about the trees. After many contacts with different City departments, we learned about the neighborhood tree stewardship program and my husband David Taylor and I signed up to learn about the urban forestry plan.

Through the tree stewardship program we met Karl Dawson and he agreed to help us replant the trees in our neighborhood. The City gave us the choice about what types of trees to plant, from a list that they generated, and we held a sort of straw vote on the block. Karl told us when to plant the trees, while David and I organized our neighbors to help plant them. The neighbors have agreed to water the trees for the first few years during the dry season so they will grow strong and tall.

From what started out as a heartbreak has ended up being a great way to meet our neighbors. We learned that we have some fabulous, dedicated neighbors who are deeply committed to our environment and have a great respect for the aesthetics of our neighborhood. If there’s anything that I would have done differently, we would have planted the slower growing oak trees in the middle of the block, and planted the faster growing Accolade elms closer to Rosa Parks Way – a busy, noisy street. But, ah well, in a few years it won’t matter as much.

We have to continue caring for these trees, making sure that they get watered through the long, dry summers on Omaha Avenue. In a few years we can hold a session about pruning and use these trees as examples of good pruning practices.

David and I also look at our neighborhood much differently than we used to. We always liked the trees, but now we notice the Heritage Trees, the lovely “big” trees, the maples and walnuts, as well as the badly pruned trees, the diseased birches, and some uncared-for hawthorns that become a mess so easily. We notice it all! We want to help our neighbors with their troublesome trees and encourage the others to be good stewards of their trees. We love our canopy and we want to make sure it grows and flourishes for as along as we’re here to help. For upcoming Arbor Lodge events go to

Sign up for December 20 Tree Planting here or email karl.dawson (at)

Thank You Inventory Volunteers!


Here’s to another successful summer of mapping, measuring, and identifying trees for Urban Forestry’s Street Tree Inventory! As Urban Forestry staff are busy compiling reports, crunching data, and preparing presentations for the upcoming Street Tree Inventory Summit, we all reflect fondly on the fun and enlightening times that were had with our volunteers during the field season of the project.

Boise, Cully, Eliot, Foster-Powell, Kerns, Laurelhurst, Lloyd District, South Tabor, Sullivan’s Gulch, and West Portland Park all held memorable inventory work days over the summer. Whether it was Jim Sjulin stopping traffic to provide safe passage to a family of ducks, or Peggy Glascock cooking delicious breakfasts for volunteers on workdays, or Madison Weakley’s incredible enthusiasm and curiosity, there was never a dull moment as we all captured Portland’s beautiful street trees.

The tree inventory is simply impossible to complete without the dedicated help and support of all of our volunteers. The following volunteers are just a few of the 300-plus wonderful folks who went above and beyond in their contributions to the Street Tree Inventory:

Zosia Lynch received the Young Volunteer of the Year Award! A sophomore in high school with an interest in Wildlife Biology, Zosia impressed us with her keen tree identification skills and attended several inventory work days in most of the participating neighborhoods.

Kate Carone received the Community Inspiration Award! Kate was a driving force in rallying volunteers for Foster-Powell’s inventory and enthusiastically kept volunteers involved throughout the course of the summer, while effectively communicating the importance of the inventory to her peers.

Marianne Calhoun received the Neighborhood Organizer of the Year Award! As soon as she learned that Laurelhurst was accepted to participate in the inventory, Marianne stepped up to build a Tree Team and map out special projects well before the commencement of the inventory in the summer.   

Kristin Wildensee received the Go with the Flow Award! As a volunteer new to the tree inventory, Kristin has been a joy to work with as she has adeptly handled challenging situations with ease and flexibility.

John Frewing received the Dependability Award! John attended every inventory work day in his neighborhood (Sullivan’s Gulch) and volunteered in a variety of other capacities, including GIS data entry and volunteer recruitment for the Lloyd District inventory, both of which he did well!

Fred Nilsen received the Arborist of the Year Award! Formerly a curator for Hoyt Arboretum, Fred was a treat of a resource for our volunteers. His dedication to all-things tree remains vibrant with his infectious enthusiasm for solving the puzzle of tree identification.

Bill Kownacki received the Dedication Award! Bill has volunteered in the tree inventory project for five years and his sense of curiosity has never faltered. We will miss him as he moves to Pittsburgh this year.

Jim Keiter received the Over and Above Award! Jim always maintained a fun and positive attitude and was very enthusiastic about the inventory. Not even a broken leg stopped him from checking out a homework section and continuing to attend inventory workdays!

Who could forget about our dedicated GIS Data Entry Volunteers? Alayna Cato steadfastly entered the most points into our system. Jerek Laursen volunteered for the most hours. Thank you both for going the extra mile with this critical piece of the project!

We recognized these folks at the Volunteer Celebration earlier this month and we look forward to seeing them at future events!

Tree Inventory Summit

Don’t forget! Saturday, November 8th, is the day of our Tree Inventory Summit! Register here to explore the findings of the 2014 inventories and compare findings with your neighbors!

We will share some fun findings, such as the largest trees and most unusual finds. Most importantly, we will begin creating neighborhood tree plans with your guidance and vision. Tree teams, volunteers, neighborhood association members, tree stewards, Friends of Trees coordinators, and neighbors are encouraged to attend.

If you are interested in crafting a plan and taking action to improve the urban forest, we want to see you there!

New City Tree Program and Regulations Training Dates Announced


Contact:  Lauren Wirtis, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.7538

On January 2, 2015, the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) and the Bureau of Parks and Recreation (PPR) will be implementing elements of the Citywide Tree Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project (“Tree Project”) through a new Tree Program. To help inform customers of the new Tree Program and associated regulations and processes, free Tree Program training classes are being offered in November and December 2014 and in January 2015.

trees and developmentTraining on the new program and regulations is being offered based on the needs of general contractors, land use review applicants, homeowners, and arborists.  These training classes are also open to other interested parties.  Please RSVP with Lauren Wirtis at 503-823-7538 or so that we can ensure there is adequate seating and hand-out material available.

We strongly encourage construction industry professionals to attend the training that best meets the needs of your expertise and practice.  If you cannot make a training class, additional information is available at or by calling 503-823-TREE.

City Tree Program and Regulation Training Dates

Date & Time Location Topic Who should attend
November 7, 2014
12 – 1 pm
1900 SW 4th Ave
Room 2500A
Tree preservation and planting requirements for development projects Building permit applicants
November 20, 2014
12 – 1 pm
Portland Building
1120 SW 5th Ave
Room C (2nd Floor)
Tree permit requirements for non-development projects Tree care professionals, Landscapers, Homeowners
December 10, 2014
12 – 1 pm
1900 SW 4th Ave
Room 2500A
New tree requirements for land use reviews Land use review applicants

December 11, 2014
6-7 pm 

Portland Building
1120 SW 5th Ave
Room C (2nd Floor)
Tree permit requirements for non-development projects Tree care professionals, Landscapers, Homeowners
December 17, 2014
12 – 1 pm
1900 SW 4th Ave
Room 2500A
Tree preservation and planting requirements for development projects Building permit applicants
January 14, 2015
12 – 1 pm
1900 SW 4th Ave
Room 2500A
New tree requirements for land use reviews Land use review applicants

To learn more about the City Tree regulations, please visit the Citywide Tree Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project Code and Commentary document.
Please subscribe to receive other Bureau of Development Services notification. 

This article originally appeared on the BDS BLOG here.