Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry News and Activities 

Sign up for the Tree Bark newsletter to receive email updates of Portland's urban forest news!

Event calendar

Cully Cycle Track Tree Replacement Project

A project report brought to you by the Cully Tree Team.

Project Background

In June of 2010, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) began construction on The Cully Boulevard Green Street Project. This project added sidewalks, bio-swales and a dedicated off-street bike lane called a “cycle track” to improve Cully Blvd. from NE Prescott St. to NE Killingsworth St.

The street trees chosen for the PBOT project were a combination of ash and birch trees. The PBOT project was completed in mid-May 2011, with the agreement that “new street trees will be maintained until 2013.” 

By 2014, while the ash trees were doing well, many of the birches were showing signs of stress, with die-off in the crown. During the severe winter of 2016, ice and snow caused some trees to fall.

Birch trees on Cully Blvd. showing signs of decline

The Cully Blvd. Tree Replacement Project focused on replacing declining birches along the cycle track.

The Project Begins

The Cully Tree Team began to interview residents adjacent to the birches in early 2017. Many expressed frustration, feeling that they had tried to care for their relatively new trees, only to have them start to die. One homeowner replaced their three dying birches during a 2017 Friends of Trees planting. Arborist Jim Wentworth-Plato, of Emerald Tree Care, evaluated the remaining declining birches, and found all were infected with the bronze birch borer.

Birch trees show symptoms of bronze birch borer

Sap oozing from the bark of birch trees affected by bronze birch borer.

Seven households adjacent to the ailing trees were visited to explore the possibility of tree replacement, and presented with the arborist’s written evaluation. Conversations with the affected households revealed renters (four trees) and homeowners (11 trees) who were predominately low-income and/or had disabilities, along with significant financial barriers to tree replacement. Five of the seven households responded positively to the idea, but most had either financial or physical barriers to replacing their trees without help.

 A Partnership is Formed

As Urban Forestry Neighborhood Tree Stewards, Cully Tree Team was able to secure Urban Forestry Stewardship Support for the permits, the removal and stump grinding of the affected trees, and the replacement costs for replanting. Cully Tree Team assisted with permit submission, obtaining bids for tree removal, and coordinating the ordering process for tree replacement with Friends of Trees.

Tree removal and stump grinding were performed by a Local Tree Care Provider, Davey Tree, in February 2018. Friends of Trees volunteers planted 12 new trees in March 2018. The planting included species such as ginkgo, silverleaf oak, Persian ironwood, tupelo, and elm.

Newly planted trees on Cully Blvd.Volunteers plant trees on Cully Blvd.

Newly planted trees on Cully Blvd.

Ongoing Maintenance

Watering newly planted trees in their first few years in the ground is essential for their survival. Conversations with the owners of these new trees revealed some barriers to watering the trees. For example, one of the residences (the oldest house in the Cully neighborhood) has no outdoor water supply, and the distance from their water supply to the trees is greater than 100 feet. Other barriers included personal limited mobility. To facilitate watering, additional funding was obtained from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District to have nine of the 12 trees watered for two years.

Project Summary

Since Cully Blvd. is a major thoroughfare bisecting the Cully neighborhood, replacement of these trees will benefit all those who travel that route by bike, car, or on foot, as well as the adjacent property owners. A diverse selection of trees that are less susceptible to disease should lessen the chance of major tree loss along that route. In addition, tree form was carefully considered to minimize the impact of branches impeding bicycle passage. The Cully Tree Team will monitor tree health and survival, and will continue to promote proper tree care with residents.

Project partners sign on Cully Blvd.

Replacing the trees along the Cully Blvd. cycle track was a partnership involving The Cully Tree Team, Cully Association of Neighbors, Central Northeast Neighbors, East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Friends of Trees, and PP&R Urban Forestry.

Portland Joins Nationwide Urban Forest Inventory & Analysis (Urban FIA)

by Julie Fukuda, Botanic Specialist I - Forestry

Following the completion of Portland's Street Tree Inventory in 2016 and embarking on a Park Tree Inventory the following year, we now have a clearer understanding of the extent and condition of Portland’s urban forest within City-owned parks and public rights-of-way. This brings us to a new project which will include trees on other land use types within our city: residential, commercial, industrial, institutional land, as well as publicly-owned land. The Urban Forest Inventory & Analysis (Urban FIA) currently underway in Portland will add valuable inventory data to help us complete the picture of Portland’s tree canopy with sampling across public and private lands.

What is Urban FIA?

Portland’s Urban FIA, a partnership with the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, is an extension of the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) which has provided a forest census for the US since 1930. Since 2014 the Urban FIA has combined the traditional rural-focused FIA with methods and protocols used to estimate the quantity, health, composition, and benefits of urban trees, adding new cities each year in pursuit of a cohesive picture of urban forest conditions in the nation. Urban FIA map and program details are available here.

In the summer of 2018, PP&R Urban Forestry staff will collect baseline data in 200 field plots which will be established for long term monitoring. During fall and winter 2018, data analysis will occur using i-Tree, a software tool for analyzing the health, composition and benefits of trees. Reports will be publicly available in traditional formats, as well as via the My City’s Trees Application, an online tool designed for public access to Urban FIA data and customized analyses and reports.

Urban FIA field staff and data collection

Trained Urban Forestry staff determine tree locations within sample plot boundaries.

How will the study be conducted?

Two hundred randomly generated 1/6-acre sample plots are distributed throughout Portland. Plots are circular and measure 96 feet in diameter. To get an accurate picture of tree distribution across the city, all zoning classes and land use types are included: examples include forested parks, parking lots, back yards, and even open water!

In the spring and summer of 2018, property owners with plots on their land will be contacted by Urban Forestry to request permission to access these sites. Physical access is critically important to obtain the most accurate information: are trees present or absent? This includes not only mature trees but seedlings and saplings too! Other data recorded includes tree species, tree numbers and size, tree crown width and condition, health condition, and information on the land surface conditions and other vegetation coverages within the sample plots. By law the plot location and owner’s name is kept confidential through a non-disclosure agreement. Urban FIA data will be publicly available in summary form only. Information collected as part of this inventory is not used for tax purposes, nor for regulation.

Urban FIA data collection follows standardized protocol developed by the US Forest Service. Urban Forestry staff were trained and certified in these protocols and must adhere to strict quality assurance requirement for data to be included in the study.

Trees shading a Portland neighborhood street

Plot areas may encompass streets, sidewalks and multiple properties.  

How is the inventory data used and how will Portland benefit?

Over 80% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas and Portland is home for over 60% of our state’s population. In the U.S. urban areas cover about 68 million acres and are increasing. Our city’s population is growing at the rate of approximately 2% per year. PP&R Urban Forestry’s mission is to grow and ensure Portland’s tree canopy for present and future generations. This information will help us fulfill our mission by allowing us to:

  • Monitor urban forest conditions continuously over time
  • Determine impacts on our forest due to population pressures and changing climate
  • Define service levels to meet the needs of all Portland residents
  • Quantify monetary benefits trees provide to Portlanders as essential infrastructure
  • Plan a resilience response to outbreak of pests and pathogens
  • Compare our urban canopy performance with other cities nationwide

St Louis FIA certification training April 2018

Urban Forestry staff attended an Urban FIA training to become certified by the US Forest Service in study protocol. Standardization of procedure allows for comparison with other US cities, nationwide.

Trees in our city play a crucial role in the health and well-being of all who live and work in Portland. In addition to the many environmental services that trees provide, trees also ensure a host of well-researched social, psychological, economic, and public health value to our population. Collecting detailed information on Portland’s trees and implementing a continuous monitoring system helps us manage this important resource for greatest community benefit.

Questions?  Please email or call Nik Desai, PP&R Urban Forestry Urban FIA Project Manager; 503-823-4441

Urban Forestry Commission welcomes three new members

In March, Anjeanette Brown, Lorena Nascimento, and Megan Van De Mark were appointment by Mayor Ted Wheeler to serve on the Urban Forestry Commission. The Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) is comprised of 11 volunteers who have demonstrated an interest in the preservation of trees and the beautification of Portland. The Commission serves as an advisory group to the Portland Parks & Recreation Director and to the City Forester. The Commission reviews development plans and assesses the impact on the urban forest. It also acts as an appeals board for tree permits, sponsors the Heritage Tree Program, and educates the community about urban forestry issues. Please welcome the new members!

Anjeanette Brown 

Anjeanette is an Outreach Specialist for Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.(OTI) and an OTI graduate. She’s served on the leadership committee for three years, received an award for extensive volunteer work, and was an instructor for OTI’s girls and young woman programs.

Personal Statement: I recently completed a volunteer position with the Community Advisory Committee with PP&R Urban Forestry. In that program, I found a deep connection with my community and other local tree enthusiasts. At the end of that program, I was recommended to apply for the Urban Forestry Commissioner position. I look forward to serving on this committee.

Lorena Nascimento

Lorena Nascimento is a Brazilian forester and a current Ph.D. student in Urban Studies at Portland State University. She has been working with environmental education, community gardens, GIS, and sustainable development. In Brazil, she had worked with indigenous communities, extension projects, and research with renewable materials. In Portland, she is a teacher assistant for environmental classes at PSU and an instructor in the PP&R SUN Program.

Personal Statement: I am interested in furthering my understanding of the city’s urban forestry policies. Further, as Ph.D. candidate at Portland State University, I am also seeking to acquire forest management knowledge which I can apply to Brazil.

Megan Van De Mark 

Megan Van de Mark is a Neighborhood Trees Specialist with Friends of Trees, where she focuses on tree planting and tree care efforts in Vancouver, Washington and Clark County. She contracts part of her time to the City of Vancouver Urban Forestry and has previously worked for Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry's Street Tree Inventory Project. Megan has a M.A. in Sustainable Development and a BA. in Journalism and Women's Studies. Megan continues to pursue supplemental coursework in horticulture from local colleges and institutions. She is an ISA certified arborist.

Personal Statement: I want to serve on the Urban Forestry Commission because I am passionate about trees, about our community, and about the benefits urban trees can provide to our community when carefully managed. In serving on this Commission I want to help our city work towards ensuring that the benefits of our urban forest are more equitably experienced by all Portland residents. As an employee with the non-profit, Friends of Trees, my work is focused across the river in Vancouver, Washington, where I spend my days working to maintain and grow Vancouver's urban forest. Although I deeply care about this work, I also want to contribute more significantly to my own community's urban forest by helping to further educate and engage Portland residents with our urban trees and their benefits, by providing input on polices that will help us better accomplish this, and by listening to, learning from, and incorporating the community's feedback into these efforts.

News Alert: 25,000 Trees in Flower Across Portland!

You've probably noticed them as you go about your daily trips around the city - clouds of pink and white have appeared along our streets, as they do around this time each year. These harbingers of spring are flowering plums and cherries, which have been planted in Portland for decades because of their beautiful spring flowers. While there are countless hybrids out there, the most common flowering plum you see is Prunus cerasifera and the most common flowering cherries are the Akebono (Prunus x yedoensis "Akebono') and Kwanzan (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'). Those beauties on the waterfront? Akebono. 

Thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who mapped and measured every street tree in the city as part of the Tree Inventory Project, we can find them in each one of Portland's neighborhoods. Check out Urban Forestry's Flowering Tree Map and go on a tree walk in your neighborhood!

Use the Flowering Tree Map to find those plums, cherries, and all the other trees along Portland's streets

Announcing the 2018 Park Tree Inventory Locations!

Congratulations to all the Neighborhood Tree Teams whose parks were accepted for this year’s inventory. Urban Forestry will be working with these groups over the next 6 months to recruit volunteers and inventory every tree in each of these parks. Among this year’s list are some of Portland’s most iconic parks and some of our most glorious trees. Below is the list of this year’s parks—if you are interested in joining your neighborhood group in organizing these events, send an email to

2018 Inventory Parks

  • Argay Park
  • Columbia Park
  • Downtown Parks
  • Ed Benedict Park
  • Fernhill Park
  • Gabriel Park
  • Kenton Park
  • Lair Hill Park
  • Laurelhurst Park
  • Lincoln Park
  • Peninsula Park
  • Willamette Park

Click here to see a larger version of the 2018 Inventory map.