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Phone: 503-823-7529

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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).

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

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.


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:

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: