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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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City branches out with tree programs

With the adoption of the Citywide Tree Project, the City has a new and improved tool in its regulatory “toolbox” to protect and enhance Portland’s urban forest (see Susan Anderson’s message). But other bureaus, like Water, Parks and Environmental Services are already working to improve the tree canopy and further the goals of the Urban Forest Management Plan, through programs that plant more trees, control tree-harming invasive species, and educate residents about proper tree care.  

Portland’s trees not only enhance the landscape by managing stormwater, mitigating temperature, improving air quality, providing wildlife habitat, calming traffic and softening the city's sharp edges, studies have shown that trees in residential areas can also raise property resale values and in commercial areas encourage shoppers to browse longer and spend more.  

Trees hold water to reduce stormwater runoff, as well as filtering air pollutants and providing bird habitat. Trees stabilize soil to prevent erosion, provide shade and absorb carbon to reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Trees improve property values, and street trees can slow traffic, making streets safer for pedestrians, bike riders and motorists.

There are also many community-led urban forestry resources -- check out Tree Link.

Grey to Green: Transitioning to green infrastructure solutions

City Council approved the Grey to Green Initiative in 2008 to accelerate implementation of the Portland Watershed Management Plan. Investments in green infrastructure, such as bioswales, ecoroofs and green streets, improve watershed health and manage stormwater in a more natural, cost-effective way than sewers, drains and pipes. They also improve air quality, reduce energy consumption, enhance community livability and promote a variety of health benefits. A major component of the Grey to Green initiative is boosting the City's tree canopy by planting 83,000 trees.

Already, the Bureau of Environmental Services, in cooperation with public, nonprofit and neighborhood partners, has planted more than 23,000 new trees in Portland's streets, yards, highways and byways. “This is a great example of how the city and neighborhoods can work together successfully,” proclaimed Bob Pallesen, board member for the Concordia Neighborhood Association.

Thanks to the diverse set of partners, the Grey to Green initiative improves Portland's environment, invests in local green jobs, reaching all parts of the city. As the effort moves forward, the partners will continue to invest in Portland through citywide education and tree planting campaigns.

Where will you plant your tree? Check out to learn more.

Community Tree Inventory Initiative: Urban forestry helps neighbors take stock of their trees

There are nearly 1.5 million trees on streets and City-owned land, with even more trees on private lots. City Forester David McAllister recognizes that "it takes a village" to properly manage and improve this impressive tree canopy asset.

In 2010, the Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Urban Forestry (UF) Division launched the Community Tree Inventory Initiative. Working with neighborhoods to inventory their street trees to identify existing tree resources and management issues helps the City and residents:

  • Determine the location, species, size and health of trees
  • Identify locations to plant new trees
  • Increase awareness of the important role trees play in making urban environments more livable
  • Engage residents to help care for and protect existing trees
  • Develop a Neighborhood Stewardship Plan
  • Forge a partnership with Urban Forestry

Grant funding provided through the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation Service supported a botanic specialist and her team to work with volunteers in the Concordia neighborhood to inventory and collect data on all street trees. Portland State University students have analyzed the data, which will inform Urban Forestry arborists' specific tree management recommendations.

Having completed an inventory of Concordia’s tree types and conditions, Urban Forestry is gearing up to conduct street tree inventories for Eastmoreland, Sellwood-Moreland, Kenton, Overlook and St. Johns neighborhoods in the summer of 2011. Information about the Concordia Tree Inventory results, as well as opportunities to volunteer for upcoming inventories are at

The Urban Forestry (UF) program, in Portland Parks and Recreation, plays a significant role in reaching the goals outlined in the Urban Forestry Management and Action plans.


More trees on tap for the Water Bureau

Established in 1895, the Portland Water Bureau has proudly served clean, cold and constant water to the residents of Portland. In addition to the Bull Run watershed, the Water Bureau manages facilities on numerous city properties. Planting and maintaining trees and removing invasive vegetation on these sites are just some of the ways the bureau is supporting the urban forest.

Powell Butte: At Powell Butte, the Water Bureau has already planted more than 900 trees. After completion of the new Powell Butte reservoir, the bureau will plant approximately 1,400 additional trees. These plantings will improve portions of the existing Douglas fir/Western red cedar forest, provide forest cover around existing wetland areas, and establish an oak savannah landscape. This, along with the extensive planting of native ground cover plants, is expected to significantly enhance the wildlife habitat value of the butte, support migrating bird populations, improve carbon sequestration, and contribute to the natural environment of Portland. In addition, the Water Bureau partners with Portland Parks and Recreation on removal of invasive plants from the butte.

Kelly Butte: The bureau is developing plans to restore native vegetation as well by creating an oak savannah habitat on the south side of the butte and enhancing the Douglas fir/hemlock forest on the north side of Kelly Butte. This will provide habitat and environmental benefits similar to those at Powell Butte.

HydroParks: HydroParks are Water Bureau facilities that also serve as neighborhood greenspaces. In 2009, the Water Bureau partnered with Friends of Trees to plant 15 trees at Gilbert HydroPark, 48 trees at Hazelwood (including a demonstration fruit tree orchard of 17 trees next to the community garden), and two at Sabin HydroPark through volunteer neighborhood tree plantings. The Bureau is also removing invasive English ivy at many HydroPark sites.

Bull Run Watershed: Most of Portland’s water comes from the Bull Run Watershed, where the Water Bureau has an active invasive species control and monitoring program. Winter surveys of invasive English ivy and clematis (traveler’s joy) are conducted, with invasive plants being removed where possible. Defoliating insects, such as gypsy moth and mountain pine beetle, are also tracked, though they are not widely established in the area. Trees, shrubs and groundcover are planted in areas disturbed for construction projects. All of these actions help to protect the canopy and the natural ecosystem benefits to our city's water system.