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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

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry News and Activities 

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Diverse Trees Planted to Replace Recently Removed Cherry Trees in Boise-Eliot

Albina Neighborhood Tree Team (ANTT) project a great success for neighbors, tree canopy and Portland

By Jim Gersbach, Urban Forestry Community Services Aide II

Boise-Eliot Tree Planting

Neighbors and volunteers help plant a boxleaf azara donated by Friends of Trees. 

Residents of Boise-Eliot planted scores of cherry trees to beautify their neighborhoods in North Portland, after World War II. Each spring, these trees brought stunning blossoms for all to see. However, as the trees aged, Boise-Eliot's streets became lined with trees in various states of demise. Besides creating a sense of blight rather than beauty, these lifeless, leafless trees no longer provided the many benefits residents would get from a living tree, such as reducing noise, moderating heat and preventing violence and crime.

Portland Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry's 2014 Street Tree Inventory revealed that more than 100 of the neighborhood's cherished cherry trees were dead or dying- due, in part, to the cost of removal and replacement. Additionally, planting of identical trees at the same time, resulted in simultaneous senescence.  

Albina Neighborhood Tree Team (ANTT), a group of city-trained volunteers, identified five qualified low-income households with dead street trees. ANTT then secured funding through the Urban Forest Stewardship Program, to hire certified arborists from local tree care company, Treecology, for tree removals, and Oregon Stump Grinding, to prepare the ground for replanting.   

The Tree Team, with approval of a city tree inspector, then decided on a diverse mix of eight replacement trees, donated by the non-profit organization, Friends of Trees. Those trees were planted by Tree Team members, Friends of Trees staff and volunteers, on February 13, 2016, as a special Valentine to the neighborhood.  

The new trees represent a healthier mix, with varied lifespans. For instance, a ponderosa pine can live for two centuries or more. Other trees planted were chosen because they bloom when nectar is scarce for pollinators, such as winter or summer. Some, like a Chinese pistache, are more tolerant of heat and drought than cherry trees, making them better adapted to climate change. Others, like a Chilean boxleaf azara, are evergreen and better suited than deciduous trees for intercepting and slowing runoff from Portland's winter rains. 

Homeowners in the area, like Aundrea Smith, are relieved that dangerous cherry trees that stood lifeless for so long were finally removed. She says she looks forward to admiring the lavendar flowers of her two new Muskogee crape myrtles for many summers to come. 

ANTT tree planting

Neighbors and volunteers pictured with a newly planted Muskogee crape myrtle, donated by Friends of Trees.

For more information about Neighborhood Tree Teams, the Urban Forest Stewardship Funding Program, or upcoming Urban Forestry workshops, please contact:

Identifying Heritage Trees in Parkrose and Parkrose Heights

This Saturday!

panorma rocky butte 

Join Urban Forestry instructors Jim Gersbach, Will Koomjian and Dave Hedberg, along with the Parkrose and Parkrose Heights Tree Teams for an exploration of potential Heritage Trees through a short presentation and neighborhood walk.

The Parkrose and Parkrose Heights neighborhoods are steeped in history and trees offer an opportunity to preserve these stories as a connection to the past. This workshop will highlight local history, Urban Forestry's Heritage Tree Program, and the process for nominating Heritage Trees.

Bestowing Heritage status upon a tree of significant horticultural, historical or cultural value imparts the greatest honor and protection that the city can provide for a tree. Learn more about this program and the magnificent trees of East Portland this Saturday. Here are the details:

    When: Saturday, March 19, 2016, 1-3pm (registration, snacks and refreshments at 12:30pm)

    Where: Parkrose United Methodist Church, Miller Hall (11111 NE Knott St, Portland OR)

    Register here or email: (971-334-0347)



Tree Podcasts Part II: Pier Park's Douglas-firs

Today we bring you the second in a series of podcasts highlighting the amazing stories behind some of Portland's historic and Heritage Trees. Produced through a unique partnership between PP&R Urban Forestry and Portland State University, the Portland Heritage Tree Podcasts were created by Caitlin Tholen, Joshua Justice and Ryan Wisnor as part of a Portland State University course on Portland’s Heritage Tree program.

These podcasts explore a few of the many trees within the Heritage Tree program as well as a few trees that are not officially designated. Visit the PSU site to find not only the podcasts, but credits and further reading on the trees. A special thanks to Bruce Rash of KPSU for his assistance in recording these podcasts.

In this episode, you will hear about the Douglas-fir trees of north Portland's Pier Park and their role in "Bloody Wednesday". On the morning of July 11th, 1934, the Douglas-fir trees acted as shields, witnesses, and later symbols to one of the most dramatic and violent scenes of Portland’s labor history. This podcast is an abridged version of a research paper written by Ryan Wisnor.

For more details on Bloody Sunday, visit Ryan's post at the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association here

For more podcasts and information on the project, visit:

Call for 2016 Naito Community Trees Award nominations

2016 Naito Community Trees Award nominations due this Friday, February 26th!

Do you know an individual or group whose volunteer work has made significant enhancements to Portland's urban forest and inspired others to recognize the many benefits and beauty of trees? If so, consider nominating them for the 2016 Bill Naito Community Trees Award.

2015 Naito Award recipient, John Iott (photo)

2015 Naito Community Trees Award recipient, John Iott, recognized for his hundreds of hours of volunteer service with the Portland Fruit Tree Project and Green Thumb Community Orchard. Pictured from left to right, Bob Naito (son of Bill Naito), John Iott, Mike Abbaté (Parks Director), and Jenn Cairo (City Forester).

Since 1997, this award has recognized one individual and one group, each year, that exemplify the spirit of Bill Naito. Bill Naito was a businessman, civic leader and philanthropist who founded the Urban Forestry Commission in 1974 and chaired it until his passing in 1996. Through his humor, persistence and imaginative approach to projects, he inspired others to recognize the importance of urban forest stewardship.  

Nominations are easy! Simply complete this nomination form and submit a one page story about the nominee's work. To strengthen your nomination, you may include additional materials such as: newspaper articles, photographs, or letters of support. Remember, nominations are due on February 26th, so don't wait any longer!

To learn more about the award and to view a list of previous award recipients, click here. 

Once your nomination is complete, please send or email nominations to: 

Bill Naito Award Committee, c/o Urban Forestry, 10910 N Denver Ave, Portland OR 97217 


Bill Naito photo

William Sumio Naito (1925-1996), champion of the urban forest.

Upcoming workshop: Tree History in Laurelhurst (2/27/16)

Tree History in Laurelhurst is a unique presentation that will provide a new perspective on the value of trees in our urban forest, lessons from the past and ideas for the future.

Laurelhurst park history photo

Photo: Laurelhurst Park Cleanup, November 6, 1935, A2000-025.1121, City of Portland Archives

Join Urban Forestry's resident environmental historian, Dave Hedberg, as he traces the history of the Laurelhurst Neighborhood through trees. Gathering information, documents and photographs from the City of Portland Archives, along with anecdotal interviews with residents, Dave has meticulously stitched together a compelling story of the past through the trees of Laurelhurst. 

Spanning East Burnside Street between NE 32nd and 44th Avenues, Laurelhurst is one of Portland's older neighborhoods with homes built in the early 1900s. The neighborhood was first planned and developed by the Olmstead Brothers architectural firm, with wide streets for cars and not for horse and buggy, which was more typical at the time. As a result, streets did not have to be widened in later years, so the original nine foot planting strips and first trees remained intact. More than 2,200 trees were planted for the first 2,880 lots. Many of these trees still exist, contributing a mature tree legacy to current residents. Learn about these trees and more:

When:  Saturday, February 27th 2016, 1-3pm

Where: Hollywood Library (4040 NE Tillamook St, Portland OR 97212)  

Register here or for more information, contact: 

Laurelhurst History photo

 Photo: East Burnside St, east to 32nd Ave, 1937, A2005-001-1023, Portland City Archives