(Portland, OR) –
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Urban Forestry crews are removing two bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees from the North Park Blocks starting this week to ensure public safety. The bureau carefully follows the City of Portland’s Tree Code (Title 11), for removing dead, dying, or dangerous trees. PP&R will replant two trees in the same area as part of its standard practice to ensure Portland’s canopy growth and continued work to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.
After two American Elm trees fell in the North Park Blocks over the last few weeks, PP&R Urban Forestry (UF) staff inspected all trees in the park’s six-block area. UF staff are experienced specially trained for their role as the City’s tree and urban forest infrastructure managers, including assessing trees for possible safety concerns.
The two bigleaf maple trees were found to have significant signs of decay; the pair will be removed in the coming days to protect public safety. Fifty-four other trees in the North Park Blocks will need maintenance work and that work is expected over the next year or so. Further tree removals may occur as that work proceeds and trees are re-evaluated.
Recent heavy rains saturated the soils in our area, reducing tree stability citywide. Combined with strong winds, conditions were ripe for trees to fall. UF arborist crews responded to several tree emergencies in recent weeks - including fallen trees citywide - which resulted from similar factors.
This past summer, PP&R inspected other North and South Park Block trees for Dutch Elm Disease (DED). The elms in the Park Blocks inoculated for DED on a three-year cycle. Treatment schedules indicate that trees on that block (Everett to Davis) were treated in 2019 and will be treated again in 2022. Staff believes it is unlikely that the DED or any treatments impacted the trees’ eventual failure. An independent tree expert inspected trees in the South Park Blocks, with support from PP&R, during the recent master planning process.
Citywide park tree maintenance coming thanks to Parks Local Option Levy
Portland Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry division has never had the resources to proactively care for trees in the parks system. That will change with the community’s investment in the Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy). Thanks to Portland voters, PP&R will have resources to prepare to proactively perform maintenance, safety checks, hazard removals, and replacement of damaged trees in PP&R parks and natural areas.
Portlanders should call 823-TREE (8733) or firstname.lastname@example.org to report tree emergencies on City-managed land and public streets. The bureau’s capacity to respond to tree emergencies is growing as PP&R adds staff but is currently limited. PP&R crews focus on securing and stabilizing affected areas and removing associated trees and debris so roads can safely reopen. UF crews prioritize reopening first responder routes, working from the largest to smallest roads.