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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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Event calendar

Urban Forestry Completes Pilot Year for Yard Tree Giveaway

In its 2017 pilot year, Urban Forestry provided free yard trees to the communities of North and East Portland and Portland at large. In a true “keeping up with the Joneses” fashion, we researched several programs around the country and decided this method of getting trees to neighborhoods in need would work quite well for our tree planting program. We set the bar high by offering over 150 trees at three separate events. We offered 15 different tree species. When all was said and done, we gave away 467 trees! Of these trees, 58% were placed in low income and low canopy neighborhoods, and 63% landed in low income neighborhoods.

By providing trees to those that may otherwise not be able to afford them, yard tree giveaway programs are just one way that urban forestry programs across the country are helping to increase canopy goals and build community relationships at the same time. In Portland, our neighborhoods east of 82nd and areas of North Portland have historically been underserved and suffer low canopy rates as compared to those neighborhoods on the west side of the city.

Trees for all-even the little peeps at the Hazelwood Hydro-park!

The yard tree giveaway events were held in the Cully, Centennial and Hazelwood neighborhoods in late October through early November. However, Urban Forestry didn’t do this alone: the Cully Tree Team, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council and volunteers from across the city opted in to help us with our first year’s events. We couldn’t have done it without them! For each event, we had no idea what to expect. Would people show up for their trees? Would we run out of trees? Did we choose the right types of trees? In a nutshell, yes, yes and yes! While we had slow times during each of the event days, and some folks did change their minds about wanting a tree, we found homes for every one of the trees. We were also able to accommodate a variety of needs. Planting assistance was offered to those with physical limitations and delivery was available for those that wanted a tree but couldn’t get it home. 

While the first effort is complete (getting the trees out there) our next phase of the program is to find out if the trees survived. Starting in late August or early September, we will visit each planting address to find out if the trees survived our dry summers. We prepared new tree owners with planting demonstrations for container trees and ample take home materials on caring for their young trees.

Teaching container tree planting techniques at the Centennial event.

We learned a lot from our first year that we will apply to events going forward. Building community and increasing our urban forest capacity and all its benefits are essential to the health of Portland. If you are interested in volunteering with us for the 2018 events, let us know! And if you’re interested in obtaining a tree for your yard we will send you a reminder once our dates and places are set.

Cheers Portland! Thanks for making it a successful first year!

Questions? (503) 823-4025 or

On Oregon's 159th birthday, celebrate our state tree the Douglas-fir!

One of Oregon’s most beloved native trees, and our state tree since 1939, Douglas-fir is seen in parks and yards across the city of Portland. These trees can grow to be 300 feet tall with a 10 foot diameter, and are long-lived. In fact, Portland's tallest tree is Heritage Tree #134, a 242-foot Douglas-fir growing alongside Balch Creek in Forest Park. In the urban environment, Douglas-fir provide important habitat for animals such as residential and migrating birds, along with countless insects and mammals. Douglas-firs are commonly identified by their cones, which feature 3-pointed bracts between the scales that some people think resemble the back legs and tail of a mouse. Most people are familiar with the shaggy appearance of the Douglas-fir caused by their unique branching form; coupled with height, a Douglas-fir embodies the iconic beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

A volunteer with the Tree Inventory Project works on measuring a Douglas-fir in Wilshire Park in 2017

For true tree nerds, Douglas-fir's various names over the years provide a lesson in just how complicated taxonomy can be! Douglas-fir is not a true fir (Abies genus), which is why a hyphen is always included in the common name. Instead it belongs to the genus Pseudotsuga, which means “false hemlock” (tsuga being the name for hemlock in Japanese). While its common name honors the Scottish botanist David Douglas, who explored the Pacific Northwest in the 1820's (see a recent blog post on him here), its botanic name (Pseudotsuga menziesii) gives that honor to Archibald Menzies, another Scottish botanist who traveled here two decades prior, and who first described the tree to Europeans back home. This means the "Latin name" for our state tree actually includes 3 languages! Maybe we should just call them Oregon pines like they used to!

For more on how our state tree got its name, see this great post by our friends at the OSU Department of Horticulture, and raise a glass to it on our state's birthday this February 14th.

Posted 2/12/2018

Orchard Stewards Needed!

Volunteers needed 10-15 hours/month

Do you love fruit trees? Would you enjoy growing and pruning persimmons, Asian pears, figs, apples, quince, and medlars? Urban Forestry is seeking two volunteers to help maintain our demonstration orchard. Planted in 2010, the orchard is home to 55 diverse species of fruit and nut trees. This demonstration site is used to teach fruit tree pruning and care and is primarily maintained by volunteers. We are seeking two volunteers to visit regularly and assist with maintenance and education activities. If you are passionate about fruit trees, don't mind getting your hands dirty, and can work independently, this is a great opportunity for you! 

Volunteer time commitment: 10-15 hours per month, mostly during business hours (Monday through Friday between 7 am and 3:30 pm). Please be able to commit to six months.

Location: Urban Forestry, 10910 N Denver Ave. Learn more about the trees here.  

Activities include:

  • Conduct maintenance activities, including weeding, training, pruning, fruit thinning, fruit sox application, harvest, and mason bee care
  • Keep tree tags and records updated
  • Take photos and write social media posts on fruit tree maintenance
  • Visit other community orchards to gather ideas for education and management
  • Develop an annual maintenance and education schedule
  • Help host quarterly volunteer events

To apply, please send a short letter of interest, resume if you have one handy, and your availability to: We will review interest letters on March 19, 2018.


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.

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