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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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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.

2014 Dutch Elm Disease Toll


Portland Dutch Elm Disease Program

Every spring, Portland’s elm trees wake up with extraordinary beauty from the long winter rest.  Bright green leaves, small round seeds and microscopic green flowers greet walkers in Portland’s neighborhoods and parks.  But behind these beautiful scenes there is a silent stalker that threatens every one of our City’s Elms – the deadly duo of Ophiostoma ulmi  and Ophiostoma novo-ulmiI. Known collectivey as Dutch Elm Disease.

Ophiostoma grows in the elm’s vascular system starving the tree of water. Once an elm is infected death is quick, with leaves browning and the dead bark provided habitat for the elm bark beetle.  A quick removal is the best hope of preventing the fungi from spreading to nearby elm trees by root grafts or the elm bark beetle.      

Portlanders are vigilant about fighting the spread of DED,  this year Save our Elms in Eastmoreland and Ladds Addition inoculated 115 Street trees and Portland Parks & Recreation inoculated 148 park trees to prevent the spread of Ophiostoma.  But each year we loose a few of our most  majestic elms to DED, and 2014 is no different, with Portland loosing 35 elm trees including 18 street trees, 2 park trees and 15 yard trees.

We are thankful to the great work of Urban Forestry Elm Monitor Emily Wilson, Save Our Elms and the many Portlanders who helped identify DED infected trees to insure a quick removal. For more information on how to spot DED, the DED management program and the 2014 DED Report, please click here.

Ladd Elm  Ankeny Elm

Park Blocks Elm Stump  Richmond School Elm

Top: Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry removing Elm street trees at SE Ladd Street and (top right) SE Ankeny.   Above: Elm stump in the South Park Blocks, and (above right) Elm Monitor Emily Wilson (center) with Parks and Portland Public School staff at Richmond Elementary School, SE 47 and Division.

Fall Tree Identification Fun with Fruit & Seeds


Test your seed identifciaton knowledge, answer key at bottom

How well can you identify tree species without leaves? Although leaves are now on their way out for our deciduous friends, many trees are proudly displaying fruit. Test your knowledge on the following fun finds from a recent walk at Hoyt Arboretum. Although not all of these species were found in this year's street tree inventory, they might make great street trees! 

Catalpa  Japanese hornbeam (Carpinus japonica)  Hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium)

 Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis)  California buckeye (Aesculus californica)  Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica)

 Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)  Dove tree (Davidia involucrata)  Jack tree (Sinojackia xylocarpa)

Top Row: Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), Japanese hornbeam (Carpinus japonica), and Hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium).

Middle Row: Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis), California buckeye (Aesculus californica), and Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica).

Bottom Row: Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), Dove tree (Davidia involucrata), and Jack tree (Sinojackia xylocarpa)

Portland Heritage Trees - Our Shared History

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Heritage Tree #54 European Copper Beech: A Fine Architectural Investment

By David-Paul B. Hedberg
Portland State University Graduate Editorial Fellow
Pacific Historical Review

Hertiage Beach #54

This impressive European copper beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) now stands as the centerpiece to the Portland State University Library.  The tree itself is much older than the building around it, dating back to the 1890s when the Watson family made an investment by planting it in front of their house. 

Joseph Franklin Watson came to Portland in 1871 and became a partner in Smith & Watson Iron Works, which produced many of the city’s cast iron storefronts and fire hydrants that are still in use today. PSU acquired the Watson home in 1965, and by 1968, had demolished the house to build the campus library. For unknown reason the beach tree was saved and the tree and grassy area in front of the library became feature of student life.

By the 1970s, the growth of PSU signaled a need for a larger library. The expansion of the library incorporated the tree its design.  Architects made a choice to build around it, further highlighting trees as architectural features.

While a lot has changed over 120 years, the Watson’s beech tree has remained a prominent feature of the park blocks. Today the tree is the library’s defining feature and it is our only existing link back to the first period of development on this block. Like many trees, it’s a fine architectural investment that took generations to mature. In 1995, it became a Portland Heritage Tree, ensuring that this investment will benefit generations to come. 

Above left: PSU Copper Beach tree in 1975. Image from: Campus pictures; crowd on lawn in front of Library, copper beech tree, 6/75, University Archives, Portland State University Library.  Above right: 1890s Copper Beach Tree as it looks today. Author’s Personal Photo, Aug. 2014.

David-Paul B. Hedberg will be speaking about Heritage Trees' link to Portland's past on Wednesday, October 1 from 12-12:30 pm in Room C of the Portland Building (1120 SW 5th Avenue, second floor)