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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry News and Activities 

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Now Hiring 2020 Seasonal Positions

Photo of Urban Forestry seasonal staff

Urban Forestry Seasonal Positions - Apply Today!

Accepting applications until 2/24/2020

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry is now hiring seasonal staff to work with our Outreach and Science team. Join a fun and collaborative group that works with people and trees. There are multiple positions available to assist with our tree monitoring and tree planting programs, with a focus on expanding urban canopy in historically under-served areas. Applicants may be placed on a list to fill future vacancies.  

For more information and to apply, please see the posting on the City of Portland Jobs website here. You may apply to one or both positions simultaneously.

Required for all positions;

  • Valid driver's license and acceptable driving record,
  • Must pass a criminal background check,
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.

These positions will regularly work outdoors in all weather conditions; requires long periods of driving, standing and walking over uneven terrain; and lifting and carrying items up to 30 pounds.

Urban Forestry Outreach and Science Assistant (one position available)
This position provides support to a variety of Urban Forestry projects including: field checks for tree permit compliance, entering and organizing tree data, and providing event support. This position will research permits, contact permit holders, and visit sites to determine if trees were planted as required.

Duties will include the following:

  • Research tree permit requirements using the city's databases and compile findings into Excel
  • Visit permitting sites throughout Portland to collect data on trees using a mobile device, including compliance with planting and location requirements, tree health assessment, tree identification, and tree measurement
  • Contact permit recipients to coordinate monitoring visits, conduct a phone survey, and answer questions
  • Manage data and inspection records in Excel and ArcGIS
  • Provide administrative support for Urban Forestry programs, including data entry, file archiving, and research on Heritage Tree records
  • Provide occasional support at events and other duties as assigned

Desired qualifications include:  

  • Basic knowledge of tree identification and biology
  • Experience collecting and maintaining data, especially with mobile devices
  • Experience with ArcGIS and Excel
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively in both office and field
  • Organization skills and attention to detail
  • Communication and customer service skills

Position details:   

  • Dates: Position runs from March - September 2020 (approximately 7 months)
  • Hours: Monday - Friday; 7:00am - 3:30pm and will include occasional Saturdays
  • Starting pay rate is $17.50/hour
  • Work site is 10910 N Denver Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97217

Tree Giveaway Assistant (two positions available)
Urban Forestry gives away free trees for planting in yards at large events each fall. These positions will support all aspects of the Yard Tree Giveaway program. In summer, trees from past events will be visited and monitored to assess tree health, planting, and survival. In fall, event preparation for 2020 giveaways will include event organization, registration support, and customer service. This position represents the program to the public, works closely with volunteers and tree recipients, and is responsible for collecting and managing tree data.

Duties will include the following:

  • Collect tree monitoring data on sites throughout Portland using a mobile app, including tree health assessment, identification, and measurement
  • Contact tree recipients by phone, text, and email to coordinate monitoring visits and answer questions
  • Conduct outreach and tabling to promote tree giveaway registration
  • Assist with event organization, including logistics, registrations, customer service, volunteer training, and problem solving
  • Assist with running events including setup, tear down and leading volunteers
  • Assist with tree loading, tree delivery, and tree planting

Desired qualifications:

  • Experience collecting and maintaining data, especially using mobile devices, Excel, and ArcGIS
  • Organization skills and attention to detail in order to map routes and track sites visited
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively in both office and field
  • Customer service and communication skills with diverse audiences
  • Basic knowledge of tree identification and biology

Position details:

  • Dates: Position runs from Mid-June - November 2020 (approximately 6 months)
  • Hours: Tuesday - Saturday; 7:00am - 3:30pm (occasional evenings and extended hours will be required on event days)
  • Starting pay rate is $17.50/hour
  • Work site is 10910 N Denver Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97217


Tree Establisher (Seasonal Maintenance Worker)

Multiple positions are also open for Tree Establishers under the Seasonal Maintenance Worker (SMW) job classification. Work begins in early May and continues until mid-October. Pay starts at $15.21/hour. Read the SMW position description here. Once you have submitted your application, contact the Operations Supervisor, Larry Maginnis, at to ensure that your application reaches Urban Forestry.

Adult Crew Leader - Youth Conservation Crew (Community Service Aide II)

Inspire the next generation of conservation leaders through environmental career exposure, job skills, interpersonal skills, and community building. As a Youth Conservation Crew Leader, you will mentor and supervise 6 youth ages 14-19 from diverse backgrounds as they complete important work in our natural areas, build job and life skills, and earn a paycheck. Read the position description here, and see this website for more information on the YCC program:

About Urban Forestry

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry's mission is to manage and ensure Portland's urban forest infrastructure for current and future generations. Our urban forest consists of over 220,000 street trees, 1.2 million park trees, and innumerable private property trees. Urban Forestry is involved in managing or regulating all of these trees to differing degrees- creating and implementing the city's Urban Forest Management Plan, fostering community tree awareness and stewardship, developing tree policies and programs, monitoring and assessing the urban forest, issuing permits for planting, pruning, and removal of all public and some private trees, and responding to tree emergencies.
The City of Portland, Oregon is a growing and diverse city of 609,000 residents, nearly 20% of whom speak languages other than English at home. The successful candidate will have experience working with people from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Portland Parks & Recreation values a diverse workforce and seeks ways to promote equity and inclusion within the organization. PP&R encourages applications from candidates with knowledge, ability and experience working with a broad range of individuals and diverse communities. Although not required, PP&R encourages candidates that can fluently speak another language to include that information in their resume. Bilingual candidates are encouraged to apply. 

An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer

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.

Non-citizen applicants must be authorized to work in the United States at time of application.

It is the policy of the City of Portland that no person shall be discriminated against based on race, religion, color, sex, marital status, family status, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or source of income. The City values diversity and encourages everyone who is interested in employment with the City to apply. If you wish to identify yourself as an individual with a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and will be requesting accommodation, the requests must be made to the contact named on the job posting no later than the closing date of this announcement.

Announcing the 2019 Golden DBH Tape Award Winners!

These two volunteers made extraordinary contributions to the Tree Inventory Project this year

With the Park Tree Inventory coming to a close in 2019, we couldn't choose just one winner of the Golden DBH Tape Award, given to those volunteers who go above and beyond as we map, measure, and identify trees across the city.

Our first winner…

Jim Keiter has been a dedicated Tree Inventory Project volunteer since 2014 when he was trained as a Street Tree Inventory Team Leader. He then went on to help inventory park trees when we kicked off in 2017 and has been supplying leadership and laughs ever since. Not only has he helped out at numerous volunteer workdays this year, he also helped staff tackle Mt. Tabor Park and Washington Park. He also co-led the Hillsdale Tree Team by recruiting volunteers and helping coordinate the inventory workday at Hillsdale Park. His favorite method of recruitment is having great tree conversations over a beer at Salvador Molly’s.

Volunteer Jim Keiter provides commentary at the beginning of an inventory workday
Jim providing some humorous commentary at the beginning of a workday

There’s never a dull moment when Jim is in attendance and he never turns down an opportunity to share a thought or two and ask others deep questions about their favorite trees. A former middle school teacher, he also makes great use of his teaching skills and does an awesome job at training new volunteers on tool usage and inventory protocol. During the Hillsdale Park workday, he even recruited a passer-by to stick around and help inventory trees the entire workday!

Thank you, Jim, for six years of dedication to the Tree Inventory Project. It wouldn’t have been the same without you!

And our second recipient is…

Kelly Childers! Kelly came to Urban Forestry last year as a seasonal staff member, working on the Urban FIA Program- a partnership between US Forest Service and the City of Portland. It was then that we found out Kelly is a hardcore tree enthusiast. On one of her Saturdays off, she came out to Willamette Park to help inventory! It wasn’t a big surprise this year to see her take on a larger role with the Park Tree Inventory. Kelly helped organize and recruit volunteers for both Grant Park workdays, took on a lead role on her Neighborhood Tree Team and made it to almost every workday (she missed only one because of a wicked cold).

Volunteer Kelly Childers helps another ID a tree
Kelly going over tree ID with a young volunteer in Sellwood Park

Being a tree enthusiast and a professional forester with the State of Washington, Kelly is always happy to share her extensive knowledge with whoever is around. She is kind, patient and encouraging to new volunteers. Kelly is also very humble about her skills, which helps others feel comfortable around her, whatever skill level they are at. She is always prepared at workdays, even going as far as bringing her own laser range finder to take tree height measurements; a treat for her teammates, who are always relieved to not use the challenging clinometer.

Thank you, Kelly, for your dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm over the past two years. The Tree Inventory Project benefited much from your wealth of knowledge and genuine love of trees!

Interested in learning more about the volunteering for the urban forest? Check out our volunteer opportunities and workshop calendar to learn more about events happening near you.

How to Create a Shady Haven Under Mature Trees

Plants under the shade of mature trees.

Laura Heldreth explains her seven steps to creating a shady haven in the dry shade of mature trees. Laura is a Master Gardener in Vancouver, Washington, and this article is shared with her permission.

My oasis garden is located under a grove of mature Douglas fir trees. Whenever friends and students tease me about my ‘jungle’, I grin, because my ‘jungle’ is growing in dry shade and competing with thirsty tree roots. Let me take you through my steps on how to create a shady haven in dry shade.

Step 1

Map out the light conditions in your garden because certain plants prefer different light conditions. Go outside on a clear day and observe how the light moves through your garden, each season of the year. You can sketch out a shade map or take pictures of your garden throughout the day to note how much direct sunlight your garden receives.  

Light Conditions

Shade: Full shade is less than two hours of sunlight a day.

Dappled Shade: Dappled shade is a garden site under a canopy of trees and this area receives about two to three hours of sunlight filtered through the branches above.

Open Shade: shade provided by a building, not a tree canopy.

Partial Shade: 2 to 4 hours of sun per day.

Partial Sun: 4 to 6 hours of sun per day.

Full Sun: Six or more hours of direct sunlight per day.

Your light map will change over time, so make sure to note changes when a neighbor removes a tree, there’s windstorm damage, or an arborist prunes your trees.

Step 2

Make it a priority to protect your large trees’ roots. Large trees like the Douglas fir have most of their root systems in the top 12 to 24 inches of soil and spread out past the canopy’s edges or drip lines. So, plant small plants to prevent digging damage to your tree roots and maintain the current soil level.

Step 3

Create an irrigation plan that will water the garden at least once a week during the summer drought. Large tree roots are competitive for moisture, especially during heat waves. Install a watering system using drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or sprinklers. Make sure to water deeply and check to make sure that the water is soaking in, not just running off the surface of the soil.

Step 4

Add a two to three-inch layer of wood-based mulch to prevent weeds, hold in moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent soil run off. Leave a ring of bare soil that is 2 to 6 inches wide around the base of your trees and shrubs to keep them healthy.   

Step 5

Fertilize your shade garden plants with organic nitrogen meal fertilizers like alfalfa meal, feather meal and blood meal. Clark county soils are high in phosphate and potassium, but nitrogen is water-soluble and rinses out of the soil each season. Scratch in your organic nitrogen meal in early spring and water them in.

Step 6

Research your plant choices before you head to the nursery. Great Plant Picks ( has a comprehensive plant list that is compiled by horticultural experts in the Pacific Northwest. Their dry shade plant recommendations are fantastic. Plant Lust ( helps gardeners locate the plants they want through local growers in the Pacific Northwest.

If you’re looking for design inspiration, visit Darcy Daniel’s website eGardenGo ( Look through her suggested plant combinations and find helpful garden design tips and advice in her blog.

Step 7

Take time to enjoy your garden. Whether you like to barbecue or meditate in your space, make time to do it. Your garden is for your use and pleasure.

Backyard plants under mature trees.Gardening with big trees takes extra planning and care, but is worth the effort. Your new shady haven can become an extension of your home, an entertaining space, and your private oasis.

2018 Golden DBH Award Winner

Urban Forestry recognizes Denise Magnus for her dedication to the Park Tree Inventory.

The 2018 winner of Urban Forestry’s Golden DBH Award is Denise Magnus, Tree Inventory Team Leader extraordinaire. Denise is a longtime resident of Westmoreland and a new volunteer with the Tree Inventory Project. She signed up for Team Leader Training as a way to connect to her city parks and neighbors while gaining a new set of skills.

At the first workday of the summer, Denise worked in a challenging section of Gabriel Park. Navigating the learning curve of the inventory tools and teaching volunteers simultaneously, Denise led 2 new inventory data collectors through the scientific process at Gabriel Park. When the workday ended, Denise told staff that she wanted to come back to finish her section because she doesn’t like leaving a job unfinished. When staff returned to Gabriel Park the next week, Denise joined them for 2 afternoons, finishing her original section and helping to complete the inventory of over 600 trees in Gabriel Park. She not only completed the goal she set for herself, she gained confidence with the clinometer and iPad, and that confidence grew over the course of the summer.

Denise, right, helps a young inventory volunteer collect tree data in Lair Hill Park.

Instead of signing up for workdays at the beginning of the summer, Denise asked staff to let her know which workdays needed more support so that she could attend events where team leaders were needed most. She attended workdays at 8 different parks during the summer, teaching tree inventory protocol to data collectors from all walks of life. At Fernhill Park, Denise shared her experience and expertise with 6 high school students from Madison High School’s Eco Club as they all worked together to inventory a section of the park. Thank you, Denise, for helping to empower Portland’s next generation of urban foresters!

Madison High School Eco Club members work with Denise at Fernhill Park to inventory trees.

Interested in learning more about the volunteering for the urban forest? Check out our volunteer opportunities and workshop calendar to learn more about events happening near you. Want to hold an inventory of your neighborhood park? We are accepting applications for the 2019 Inventory now

Tree Team Spotlight: Concordia Tree Team Adopts Trees at Meek School

Concordia Tree Team plants trees in 2010.A class at Meek School helps to plant trees.

Eight years ago, a Learning Landscape arboretum was created at Alliance High School at Meek in the Concordia neighborhood of NE Portland. The Concordia Arboretum came about when a small group of Neighborhood Tree Stewards, known as the Concordia Tree Team, partnered with several groups. These groups included: Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R) Urban Forestry, Friends of Trees and Meek School. The partnership aimed to turn a treeless, empty field into a place where trees from around the world could help students learn about botany. PP&R Urban Forestry played an important role in agreeing to establish the new trees by watering them for two summers after planting.

As important as those first two years of summer watering were, experience has shown that three-year-old trees in the open, sunny, wind-exposed field were subject to drying out and dying in Oregon's dry summers. Past planting attempts in the area had left only two struggling survivors-a ginkgo and an oak. Determined that this planting would survive to provide the long-term benefits of mature trees, the Concordia Tree Team made summer watering of the trees at Meek its top priority.

Initially members carried containers of water to the trees from their cars, but soon got agreement from the school to use the school’s water taps and store hoses in a locked area. Weekly from June on, a core group of tree stewards faithfully dragged out the hoses and watered all the trees three years and older. This task takes about 1.5-2 hours.

An oak tree on the Meek campus.Bald cypress at Meek School.

The result has been that of over two dozen trees planted in stages at the school, none that were watered by the tree stewards has died of drought! Beyond merely surviving, the ample weekly watering has allowed the trees to grow during dry months when lack of water typically shuts down or slows most Oregon tree growth. Many trees have put on a foot or more of growth each summer, especially those from summer-rainfall climates. Even normally slow growers, such as umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata), have shown healthy growth for their species. Some of the trees planted as one or two-gallon sizes have reached six feet or taller in just a few summers. The photo below shows a Google street view of the campus in 2015, five years after many of the trees were planted.

2015 Google street view of Meek.Once a blistering hot space in full sun, now the Meek campus has enough tree cover that small pools of shade provide a place for the many visitors to the area to cool off. Pet owners and parents stand in the shade of these young trees on hot days watching their dogs or children playing.

The tree stewards credit the success of an eight-year watering commitment to holding monthly face-to-face meetings, and continual group emails where people commit to different weeks. People often water together, helping to make it a social occasion rather than a chore. The donation of more hoses by individual tree stewards has also meant that most trees can now be reached by hose. This eliminated the time-consuming need to fill and transport heavy water containers. Only about six trees on the perimeter of the school still need water carried to them. The 2018 Google aerial view below shows the location of the trees.

2018 Google aerial view of the Meek campus.With much of Oregon again officially in drought this summer, the lesson from Concordia is that for the initial investment in planting trees to pay off, most newly planted trees should be watered their first several summers. The results are lush, healthy, faster-growing trees. In turn, these trees will help keep people cool as summers grow hotter.