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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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Three Opportunities To Bring Free Trees To Your Neighborhood

Free Tree Opportunities in Portland


As the readers of this blog may already know, trees provide a wealth of benefits to our beautiful, rainy city. Not least of these is the critical role trees play in reducing, redirecting, and preventing runoff from storm events. It is for this valuable service that the City of Portland Environmental Services has partnered with Friends of Trees to provide free and low-cost trees in neighborhoods across Portland.


Friends of Trees free tree planting area    

Any property located where Friends of Trees does plantings can get a great deal on a street tree this winter, but residents of Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Argay, Russell, and Wilkes neighborhoods can get their street tree for free! Why? Even though outer northeast has a lower population density on average than inner east and north Portland neighborhoods, its canopy cover is still below the city-wide goal! Lots of impervious surfaces like roads, parking lots, and industrial buildings cause urban temperatures to increase and create a tremendous amount of stormwater runoff. Excess runoff can lead to ponding and flooding. While some stormwater goes to the sump system and back to groundwater, some drains directly into the Columbia Slough and Columbia River. No matter where it’s going, runoff takes all the pollution from the street with it. Don’t miss this great opportunity to receive a Friends of Trees tree! Sign up deadline is January 25, 2016. Renter? No problem - get the owner’s permission before signing up.  


Contractors planting Ponderosa Pines     Ponderosa Pine on N Dekum

Since they maintain their foliage during the wettest parts of the year, evergreen trees, including conifers, are especially valuable as stormwater managers. And, if you’ve done the street tree inventory, you’ll know that even though the Pacific Northwest is known for iconic trees like Douglas-fir, western red cedar, and ponderosa pine, there aren’t a lot of them lining the streets of Portland. Part of the reason for this is that those big, beautiful trees don’t fit in a three-foot planting strip. So, for those lucky households with planting strips six feet wide or wider and no overhead lines (including properties with no curb or sidewalk), Environmental Services and Friends of Trees are offering free evergreen conifers. Manage stormwater, improve air quality, increase habitat, and add a little green to that grey winter view! Free evergreen conifers for large planting strips are available in every neighborhood where Friends of Trees plants. Check the Friends of Trees calendar or call 503-282-8846 to find out what the deadline is in your neighborhood.


Can’t plant any more trees where you live? Tree lovers are always welcome to join in a Friends of Trees planting event. Your participation is important because many people aren’t able to plant their own trees. Truck drivers especially are always needed! No registration required; visit the website to learn more.

Friends of Trees volunteer planting

2015 Tree Inventory Results Revealed

2015 Tree Inventory Results


In summer 2015, PP&R Urban Forestry organized neighborhood stakeholders to conduct volunteer-led street tree inventories in Buckman, Centennial, Hazelwood, Irvington, King, Mill Park, Montavilla, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Mt. Tabor, North Tabor, Old Town-Chinatown, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Powellhurst Gilbert, Roseway, Sabin, Sumner, Vernon and Woodlawn neighborhoods. This year’s inventory covered nearly twice as many neighborhoods as 2014, and expanded farther east than ever before. More than 340 volunteers donated 3,500 hours to the project by identifying, measuring, and mapping over 52,000 trees. In addition to collecting data in the field, volunteers entered inventory data into ArcGIS at the Urban Forestry office.


Inventory results, recommendations, and maps were compiled into individual neighborhood reports. Reports are available at An interactive map is also available for searching the 157,000 trees in the database by address. Inventory highlights are listed below.

Composition: 152 different tree types were found, ranging from 28 in Old Town-Chinatown to 108 in Montavilla. Tree counts range from 990 – 6,200 trees per neighborhood. The most common trees across all neighborhoods are Norway maple, red maple, cherry, and plum. Deciduous broadleaf trees dominate the tree population, but evergreens are more common in neighborhoods farther to the east – evergreen conifers make up more than 10% of all trees in Sumner, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Hazelwood, Mill Park, Powellhurst-Gilbert, and Centennial.

Species diversity: Nearly all neighborhoods exceed the recommended guidelines for species diversity for at least their top genus and family. In Parkrose Heights, the most common family (Sapindaceae) has met but not exceeded the diversity threshold of 20%. Across all neighborhoods, maples are widely overrepresented at the species, genus, and family level. Cherry and plum are also overrepresented at the species and genus level, as is the rose family (Rosaceae) overall.

Size class distribution: Across this year’s neighborhoods, just under 50% of the population is comprised of trees under 6” DBH. However, over 60% of the population in Mt. Scott-Arleta and Centennial fall into this size class, while only about 21% of trees in Old Town-Chinatown are less than 6” DBH. Larger diameter size classes (>18” DBH) are less represented in a majority of neighborhoods, but this class comprises a greater portion of the population in Irvington (34%), Buckman (20%), Sumner (19%) and Parkrose (19%). The largest tree in Parkrose Heights, a 79” DBH European beech, is also the largest diameter street tree inventoried in Portland, to date. 

Tree condition: 87-95% of trees are rated in good or fair condition in all neighborhoods, 4-11% rate poor, and 1-2% are dead.

Planting site type: While improved rights-of-way comprise the vast majority (77% or more) of planting site types in most neighborhoods, unimproved rights of-way are more common in neighborhoods to the east. Over 30% of all sites in Hazelwood, Powellhurst Gilbert, and Centennial are unimproved, and over 50% of sites in Parkrose, Mill Park, Parkrose Heights, and Sumner are unimproved.

Planting site size: Large disparities were found among neighborhoods. Small sites, which support small form trees, range from a low of 4% of sites in Roseway up to 73% of sites in King. Planting site size corresponds to the mature size of a tree that can be supported in the site.

Stocking levels: In residential neighborhoods, stocking levels range from 79% in Irvington to 35% in Parkrose Heights. Neighborhoods with more unimproved sites have lower stocking levels than those with more improved sites. Over 66% of all sites in Sumner are unimproved, while stocking level is only 36%. Mt. Scott Arleta and Mt. Tabor represent the median stocking level, with 54% of their planting sites stocked. Over 40,000 spaces have been identified for tree planting across all neighborhoods.

Undersized trees: More than half of large planting sites in all neighborhoods are stocked with undersized trees. This ranges from 90% of all large sites in Old Town-Chinatown to 56% in Powellhurst-Gilbert.

Annual benefits: Total annual environmental and aesthetic benefits provided by street trees range from $57,000 to $1,343,000 per neighborhood, annually.

Replacement values: Replacement values of the street tree population range from $2.3 - $35.9 million.


On November 7th, 2015, over 70 participants convened at the Tree Inventory Summit to discuss results and begin creating tree plans. After presentations on the data and hearing from guest speakers on species diversity, tree maintenance, canopy, and tree history, participants broke into neighborhood groups to draft tree plans. The tree plans include a vision statement, goals, action items, and recommendations for property owners. Urban Forestry AmeriCorps members Matthew Downs and Patrick Key are serving as the Tree Plan Coordinators. They will work with each neighborhood tree team to plan two stewardship events between now and June 2016 to help groups stay organized and help meet tree plan goals. At the summit, Matthew and Patrick presented a menu of stewardship workshop options for participants to choose from, including planting, pruning, and maintenance events. 


Urban Forestry staff will continue to work with tree teams to provide tree plan guidance and ongoing support. Next year’s inventory will be the last, as Urban Forestry staff and volunteers work to complete the remaining neighborhoods on the east side of the City. Applications for 2016 inventories are available on the project website and are due January 15. For more information about the Tree Inventory Project and to download presentations and data, visit:

Volunteers gather for a Roseway inventory work day.

Top: An inventory volunteer measures the DBH of a street tree in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood (left); Neighborhood Tree Teams work on their Tree Plans at the summit at Mt Scott Community Center in November (right).

Tree History in Roseway on 1/9/16

Join us Saturday, January 9

Learn more about the history of trees in our neighborhood on Saturday January 9th, 2016

Grace Lutheran Church, 7610 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR, 97213

Join Portland historian Dave Hedberg and the Roseway Tree Team to learn about the trees in your community and how history shaped our urban forest. Understanding and valuing trees historically leaves us better equipped to make future decisions and avoid unexpected consequences inherited from our past.

12:30pm–1:00pm: Registration and sign-in
1:00pm–2:00pm: Presentation by Dave Hedberg, Environmental Historian and Urban Forestry workshop instructor
2:00pm–3:00pm: Coffee and discussion of Roseway tree history with newcomers and longtime residents


Contact Patrick Key at Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry

Golden DBH Tape Recipient Highlight

Meet Kyle Lempinen, Inventory volunteer of the year

Meet Kyle Lempinen, Inventory volunteer of the year!
In 2010, PP&R Urban Forestry began the Tree Inventory Project to empower neighborhood groups to care for their urban canopy.  This year, 20 neighborhoods partnered with Urban Forestry to inventory their street tree and create action-oriented management plans.  Since 2010, more than 157,000 trees have been identified, measured, and mapped!

Each year, Urban Forestry honors the inventory volunteers with an end of season celebration, and selects one volunteer in particular who has gone above and beyond to support the project to receive the Golden Diameter Tape Award. This year’s recipient is Kyle Lempinen from the Montavilla neighborhood. UF staff interviewed him to find out more about him and his love of trees. 

Tell us a little about yourself

I’ve lived in Portland for eight years.  I grew up in the greater Chicago area, and lived on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before relocating to Portland.  In my years here, I’ve lived in several Portland neighborhoods.  I am studying Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T) at PSU, and am in the final year of my program. 

How did you become interested in trees/what inspired you to work with trees?

Growing up in the Midwest, I was always enthralled by the large deciduous broadleaf trees in the older neighborhoods in many of the towns in the region.  More recently, I’ve become concerned about many of these trees being lost to pests and pathogens.  Growing up, I witnessed some of the effects of the Asian Long-horned beetle on maples and other species.  When I visit my hometown (Lake Forest, Il, a Tree City USA town), I am dismayed to see the decimation of ashes and elms that have occurred over the past decade from Emerald Ash Borer and Dutch Elm Disease. 

How did you become involved with the Street Tree Inventory?

I learned about an opportunity to do GIS data entry of the inventory data from a classmate who had volunteered during a previous summer.  I was looking to get involved because I knew I would have some extra time this summer (2015).  I contacted Angie DiSalvo and learned of the volunteer-based data collection portion of the Inventory Program from her.  I ended up being trained as a volunteer team leader, and contributed to both the data collection and data entry this summer.  I typically volunteered at the Wednesday afternoon workdays, and came out to Urban Forestry another day each week to help with the data entry.  I also inventoried several areas around my own home on my own as homework assignments.  In addition to my own neighborhood (Montavilla), several nearby neighborhoods (Tabor, North Tabor), as well as ones I had lived in previously (such as Roseway) were also being inventoried this summer.  I was excited to help with the inventory in all of them.

How have you benefitted from volunteering in the Street Tree Inventory? 

Overall, it’s been a great learning experience in several ways!  First, I’ve learned so much about tree identification.  Prior to volunteering on the street tree inventory, I hadn’t thought about the many benefits of trees, aside from their aesthetic benefits.  It was an awakening of sorts for me to understand more of their environmental and social benefits.  Also, I was unfamiliar with Urban Forestry and their efforts to educate residents about the benefits of street trees and expanding the urban canopy. 

What were your favorite trees you discovered this summer? 

All of the trees I inventoried!  I particularly enjoyed ultimately identifying the trees that initially stumped me and others collecting data.  I think mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and monkey puzzle (Arcaucaria araucana) are really neat and beautiful, and was happy to find a few of them as street trees.  I particularly enjoy the fall colors of ashes (Fraxinus spp).  My favorite tree I encountered was the mature Sassafras across the street from where I live.

What were your favorite tree-related events this past year?

I enjoyed a few of the Wednesday inventory workdays  in particular that were in neighborhoods with a lot of mature, large trees – my first workday in Tabor, and one in Irvington come to mind.  I enjoyed working on a homework section that included the block I live on.  On another homework section in Roseway, I bumped into Nik Desai (a staff neighborhood volunteer coordinator) and his son.  In general I enjoyed interacting with my neighbors and other people I encountered while identifying trees and collecting data.  I also really enjoyed attending the volunteer appreciation dinner held at the Portland Mercado at the end of the season.   I really did not expect to receive the Golden Diameter Tape Award!

What would you like to say to other volunteers, or to anyone interested in the Street Tree Inventory program?

It’s a great way to learn more about the nature that exists within the city.  It caused me to shift the way I think about street trees, and all the work that goes in to developing and maintaining this resource.  I’ve learned more about the city, met many great neighbors, and feel like I’ve built community.

Now that the inventory in your neighborhood is complete, how will you remain involved with street trees around where you live?

I may be moving to a different neighborhood before next summer.  Wherever I am, I hope to work with my immediate neighbors to educate them about tree care, and to encourage them to plant street trees wherever possible.  I think it is especially important to do this with redeveloped properties within the city.  Often trees are planted on these properties by developers, and the residents may not know how to help them get established and properly maintain them. 

What are your other tree-related plans for 2016 and beyond?

I hope to continue volunteering with data collection and data entry in the Street Tree Inventory next summer.  Beyond that, I hope to be trained in the Neighborhood Tree Steward Program in 2016.  I should have the time to do this after finishing up my degree.

2015 Tree Inventory Volunteers of the Year

 The 2015 Portland street tree inventory season is complete.  There is no way we could have collected data on over 50,000 trees without the help of over 340 volunteers who dedicated 3,500 hours of their time to this project.  Urban Forestry held a Volunteer Celebration night on Thursday October 13, 2015 at Portland Mercado on SE Foster Road. We enjoyed delicious food, and recognized and thanked all the many project volunteers for their efforts.  Several volunteers were acknowledged with awards for their contributions. 

 2015 Tree Inventory Volunteers of the Year  
Catherine Clarke, a.k.a the Tree Champion of Roseway, earned the Best Team Leader award for the enormous amount of work she put into keeping her team organized.  Not only did Catherine attend inventory days and complete homework sections, she made buttons for her team, posted events on Next Door, and even made flyers in three different languages!  Following a busy inventory season, Catherine opted to enroll in the Neighborhood Tree Stewards program and is already hard at work planning a major improvement project for the Roseway Parks Blocks along NE 72nd Avenue.
Jonathan Brandt’s natural talent as a community organizer won him the Community “Inspirator” award, inspiring community members to get involved every step of the way. At every Mt. Scott-Arleta work day Jonathan could be found welcoming new volunteers, whether long-time residents of the community or individuals new to the neighborhood. He is active in his community and was always sharing resources with attendees, letting them know about upcoming events and available community resources.
Rookie of the Year went to JoAnne DiCarlo. She came into the project with very little background in tree ID, but she studied, took samples, and asked a lot of questions, and became an expert by the end! JoAnne, along with her husband Greg, came to all four Buckman workdays and completed 8 homework sections – together that’s about 20% of the entire neighborhood! We really could not have completed Buckman’s street tree inventory without JoAnne. Not only was she a dedicated data collector, she also entered 485 trees into the GIS database.
This year’s Diligence Award goes to Peggy Donovan.  Tree ID experts are so useful to the tree inventory project, but it’s important to remember everyone who knows something about trees at one point in their lives started out as a novice.  With a bit of encouragement and diligence, one volunteer can make significant accomplishments for our community and urban forest. Peggy started out as apprehensive team leader always responding to feedback whether it was about overhead powerlines, or maple ID.  Returning to work days in different neighborhoods bringing new samples to confirm tree ID, she displayed so much dedication to the inventory project and learning about trees!
Jeff King won the Go With The Flow Award. If we needed an additional hand at a workday, Jeff was always willing to show up and help out. Volunteer that might need some extra help had successful and fun work day experiences when paired with Jeff. He did a great job of making them feel welcome and helping them learn the ropes. Returning for his fourth year as a street tree inventory volunteer, Jeff was willing to help out in neighborhoods throughout the entire city, excited to learn trees in different parts of the city. Jeff really knew how to go with the flow, which is a great quality in a volunteer.
Volunteers who attended the King-Sabin work days may know that Legibility Award winner Maureen Raad is a committed member of the King-Sabin Tree Team. She attended all work days for her neighborhood, and accepted homework sections, and even hosted a work day at her home. She was great at tree ID, putting her landscape architecture and natural sciences skills to good use for the project. But with all she contributed, the award she earned is for her uncommonly tidy handwriting and exceptionally legible data sheets.  Data entry volunteers so much appreciate how easy Maureen made their job with her attention to detail!
Finally the 2015 Street Tree Inventory Golden DBH Tape Award went to the volunteer who best embodied the community spirit of the project.  Kyle Lempinen was one of this season’s most persistent GIS volunteers, though he also appeared in most of this year’s field inventory neighborhoods, always bringing his upbeat enthusiasm and positive energy to each work day. He consistently offered his time toward homework sections across the city, and even acted as the sole registrant in a couple of our ultimately canceled work days.  Kyle has acted in every role available to the project, from collection to entry, and up until the end dedicated his time and efforts toward this year’s intense inventory season.  Read our interview with Kyle for more information on what his drive to volunteer and what he loves about the street tree inventory project.