Tuesday, June 7, 2022

UPDATED 6/19: The High Value Of Downtown City Trees

Three landmark oak trees. The Design Review Board says one must go.
Councilmember David Carson led Council discussion on the Senior & Community Center monthly report.  It was the April 26th "Committee of the Whole" meeting. Councilmembers Varisha Kahn and Steve Fields were absent.

Eric Dawson, Project Manager gave each councilmember a tree heath assessment map  (or something similar.) Thirty-two trees will be removed,  mostly from around the building. 199 replacement sapling trees will be planted.  The high count is attributable to the 128 replacement tree requirements in the "Shoreline jurisdiction."  

President Jessica Forsythe asked "how many trees can potentially be saved, especially looking at the first one nearest the River Trail?  It's a pretty substantial tree and lots of people enjoy the shade. There's about five I'm hoping we can do something." 

Mr. Dawson said mildly, he was looking into small shrubs to give away to homeowners.  huh?  At one time he said the City could afford a "green roof" on the Center.  A sliver of one is planned.

President Forsythe asked about reworking the trail rather than removing the tree.  Mr. Dawson said the Design Review Board studied every angle to find the "best connection point" between the river and the Center. They decided the entrance to the Center near a landmark tree was the most inviting and the tree would need to go; yet he committed to one more look.  

Parks Chair Councilmember David Carson was positive about saving the tree saying "it took 50-60 years to get that tree to where it's at."  He said it was an ideal shade tree for the picnic tables. City planner Cameron Zapata said Red Oaks are sometimes called "Champion Trees." 

Odds & ends:  Vice President Vanessa Kritzer asked about the pickleball courts. Eric said they will stay open until the cranes are up.  "Art Hill" will close for staging.  Late 2022, early 2023 construction cranes will be up.  Councilmember Malissa Stuart got assurances from Mr. Dawson that full programing with some finishing touches will be in place late 2023 when the Center opens.  

I did quite a bit of research on the "inviting entrance" near the landmarks seen in this photo. The OPSIS Health Assessment marked the three trees as "significant" Oaks measuring 24", 20", and 24".  I measured them: all three were a minimum 30 inches ABH while standing on their roots. These Oaks are landmarks.  I fear the the middle landmark will be removed unless Council intervenes. I'm not positive they are Red Oaks. The foliage of  three Oaks looks different from the Heritage tree.

It's interesting four Oregon White Oaks are designated tree replacements.  For more information about the tree replacements.  READ MORE: 

128 replacement trees were required for the State Shoreline jurisdiction.  
105 replacement trees are proposed for on-site planting.
94 replacement trees are proposed for off-site planting.  Staff didn't know the site.

35 Vine Maple replacements

19 Western Red Cedar replacements (these are big, where's space for them?  to the South?)

9 Eastern Redbuds replacements

8 Big Leaf Maple (again, they grow high!)

By Bob Yoder, opinion, Photo Yoder, 6/7/2022
Exhibit:  A OPIS Site Entitlement Plan (Tree replacements)


  1. Good on you to measure the trees yourself. The fact that these have been mis-measured is a significant indicator that some something fishy is going on here. I see no reason why a path needs to plow through any of these trees. Hasn't the designer heard of curves and or thought about pathing that goes to either north or south of the grove?

    1. I definitely agree about the mis-measurement. I measured the diameter with one other person. And yes, the site entitlement plan is messy. I hope the councilmembers will heroically step in, find a more "inviting" entrance and save those landmarks. State Shoreline Trees within the 150 foot buffer will be removed as well; this will account for over 100 replacement trees. To be honest, am surprised the State allowed the City to impact the buffer to this degree. But then again, I'm not. The new Center will have the same footprint as the old building.