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Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When trees fall in an urban forest, do our leaders hear the sound?

Even the passerby interviewed by television journalists for the tree story on KOIN tonight notices the unequal requirements of tree protection for some developers over others. For years the city worked on a highly anticipated tree plan that was meant to solve Portland's deforestation trend; now it turns out developers only have to pay $1,200 per tree to fire up the chain saw.


This story came out the day I finally made the pilgrimage to see the huge trees awaiting the Remmers chopping block at 3646 SE Martins St., one block south of Woodstock Boulevard. We reached them close to sunset, when the neighborhood kids took to a bit of after-dinner ball next to the chainlink fence. The fence makes it hard to get close to, never mind touch, the three giant sequoias that took root there some 150 years ago. Since the Civil War era, they grew to more than 20 feet around and top out at around 150 feet.

Take a drone tour of the overstory here. Better yet, visit these impressive oxygen generators in person before they're gone. You hardly ever see huge trees like these in a city. If Remmers has his way, our kids never will.

If you decide to bear witness to, and document, their fall, sign up here.

While you're contemplating a trip to the trees, dash off a letter to your elected leaders about what a giant mistake it is losing these sequoias, along with the rest of the mature urban canopy that's been harvested to make room for mass-produced plan-book construction.

 (As an aside to buyers of this type of new housing, please plant trees! Consider heading up a tree-planting effort for your neighborhood to contribute foliage and privacy to the environs; most developers raze every green thing on a site to make way for new construction. It's hard to replace long-lived great shade trees that generations enjoyed, but here's a group that helps get people started.)

Why do we need trees? Because they exemplify beautiful living history, and we need to breathe.

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