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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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View a calendar of Urban Forestry events

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

Tree Podcasts Part I: The Joseph Lane Bigleaf Maple

Today we bring you the first in a series of podcasts highlighting the amazing stories behind some of Portland's 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 we look at Heritage Tree #295, the Joseph Lane Bigleaf Maple. Planted in the late 1800s in honor of the first territorial governor of Oregon, Joseph Lane, then rededicated in 1948 by Mary Albro (founder of the Pioneer Rose Association and whose husband was a descendant of Lane). This podcast also delves into the practice of planting trees in cemeteries and Lone Fir in particular. This podcast is based on original research by Joshua Justice.

For more podcasts and information on the project, visit:

Tree Team Replaces Dead and Dying Trees in Boise-Eliot

Written by Jim Gersbach, Urban Forestry Community Services Aide II

Aundrea Smith felt a big sense of relief when the old cherry tree in front of her house in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood fell to a chainsaw February 2nd. The tree had been dead since at least 2007, but with other bills to pay the Smith family could not afford to hire an arborist to remove it. With each passing year, Aundrea worried more and more about whether the tree would fall. 

Her anxiety was put to rest when she was contacted by volunteers with the Albina Neighborhood Tree Team (ANTT). Jeff Ramsey and Kevin Pozzi, ANTT Leaders, submitted a proposal for $2000 of funding through the new Urban Forestry Neighborhood Stewardship Program, to arrange for the removal of five dead or dangerous street trees and replacement with eight new trees for low-income homeowners in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood. Bids were obtained from private tree care companies; Treecology and Oregon Stump Grinding won the removal and grinding contracts, respectively. The non-profit group Friends of Trees generously agreed to donate the eight replacement trees.

Two of the dead cherry trees prior to removal

Data from Urban Forestry’s 2014 Street Tree Inventory of the Boise-Eliot neighborhood revealed that over 100 large diameter cherry and other street trees in this area were identified as either dead or dying, and due for removal. According to Jeff Ramsey, a Boise-Eliot resident and a volunteer Neighborhood Tree Steward with ANTT, removing the trees and replanting with a diverse mix of new trees emerged as a priority after the group studied the inventory results.

“We know that trees provide great benefits but at the end of their life their removal can be a financial burden,” notes Mr. Ramsey. “We didn’t want the cost to be a burden on low-income homeowners and a barrier preventing removal and replanting.”

ANTT members were pleased with the diversity of the eight replacements. They represent six genera in six distinct families. Three are summer-flowering Muskogee crape myrtles and one is a yellow-flowering magnolia that blooms in spring. There is a rare evergreen- a boxleaf azara from Chile, and a heat and drought-tolerant Chinese pistache. The last two are large shade trees - a native ponderosa pine and a Dutch elm disease-resistant Triumph elm, planted in yards where the planting strip wouldn’t support trees of this size.

Like many other African-American families in northeast Portland, Aundrea Smith’s roots in her neighborhood went back to the 1940s when her grandmother bought a modest one-story home there.

Aundrea now lives in that same house along with her father. He has fond childhood memories of playing in the cherry tree in the 1960s. The pink-flowering tree was most likely one of hundreds planted in the post-war years by African-American organizations interested in improving public amenities in the neighborhood. Cherry trees, however, need room for their large surface roots and big trunks. Boise-Eliot’s narrow planting strips proved a poor match for the trees, many of which lifted sidewalks and pushed out curbs.

“I was real excited when I got the flyer about this project because I had no money to take down the old tree. I was so scared of a storm and the tree falling on someone,” Aundrea says. “This removal project has been a blessing.”

ANTT Tree Team Members Jeff Ramsey and Kevin Pozzi, and homeowner Aundrea Smith

She says she is looking forward to shade in her backyard from her new elm, and to the lavender flowers when her new crape myrtle blooms. Its well-behaved roots and more slender trunk should prove a better fit for her 3’ wide planting strip. Both trees should provide decades of beauty and ecological benefits to the whole neighborhood.

To learn more about Urban Forestry’s Stewardship Funding Program: or contact:

For information and results from the ongoing street tree inventory:

Now Hiring Urban Forestry Seasonal Staff

Urban Forestry Seasonal Positions – Now Hiring
Applications accepted until March 9, 2016

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry is seeking seasonal staff to work with its science and policy group conducting tree inventory and monitoring activities.

Tree Inventory Coordinator (multiple positions, job class is Community Service Aide II)

  • Conduct street tree inventory workshops with volunteers in Portland neighborhoods. This includes public speaking, training volunteers, organizing logistics, and checking data for accuracy.
  • Collect street tree inventory data, including tree identification, measurement, and assessment and site evaluation using paper forms and mobile ArcGIS.
  • Analyze data and write reports on inventory findings.
  • Visit for project details.
  • Additional duties may include conducting tree planting inspections and data entry.
  • Work schedule is Tuesday through Saturday from 7 am to 3:30 pm.
  • Position start date is April 26 and duration is approximately 6 months.
  • Pay rate is $16/hour.

Elm Monitor (one position, job class is Community Service Aide II)

  • Monitor Portland’s 2,000+ elm population for symptoms of Dutch elm disease. Requires travel throughout the city, visual inspection for symptoms, and recording inspection results.
  • Maintain inspection records, collect samples and send for lab analysis, and work with City inspectors and property owners during the removal of infected trees.
  • Collect tree data, including identification, measurement, and assessment using mobile ArcGIS.
  • Visit  for project details.
  • Work schedule is Monday through Friday from 7 am to 3:30 pm.
  • Position start date is June 2 and duration is approximately 4 months.
  • Pay rate is $16/hour.

Desired qualifications:

  • Tree identification skills, especially non-native trees
  • Experience collecting and maintaining data, especially with mobile devices
  • Experience with ArcGIS and Excel
  • Ability to work independently
  • Organization skills and attention to detail
  • Writing and communication skills, including report writing and public speaking
  • Experience working with volunteers
  • University coursework in forestry, GIS, botany, or related subjects

Required for All Positions: Valid driver's license and acceptable driving record, must pass a criminal background check, and must be at least 18 years of age.

Application procedure: Applications accepted until March 9. Send resume, cover letter, and list of three professional references via email to Julie Fukuda, CS Aide II, 971-337-7437. Please specify which position(s) you are applying for in your cover letter. Candidates selected for interviews will be notified by March 14.

Portland Parks & Recreation values a diverse workforce and seeks ways to promote equity and inclusion within the organization.  PP&R encourages candidates with knowledge, ability and experience working with a broad range of individuals and diverse communities to apply. PP&R encourages candidates that can fluently speak more than one language.

If you are requesting Veteran's Preference, attach a copy of your DD214/DD215 and/or Veteran's Administration letter stating your disability to your profile. You must request Veteran's Preference AND include a copy of your documentation for each recruitment you apply for. Veteran's Preference documentation must be submitted with your application.

inventory training with volunteers

training volunteers in tree identification

Researching Historic Trees in Your Neighborhood

Saturday January 30th, 2016
Portland State University, Cramer Hall 494, 1721 SW Broadway

Choose from two sessions: 
10 am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm

Register online
Register early: space is limited and registration will close once the sessions fill!

Join environmental historian Dave Hedberg in exploring local archives, sources, and methods to research the history of your neighborhood forest. Researching the historic context of neighborhood forests not only gives trees intangible values, but can also provide valuable lessons to our past and future.

This workshop will provide you with the tools and methods to do your own historical research! Learn how to use the various archives. Bring your internet-connected device (wifi available) and locations to research.