What’s it like to walk the park trails with Fred Nilsen? Portland author Bill Donohue describes Nilsen and Forest Park well in Backpacker Magazine:
“There’s probably no one who knows Forest Park better than Fred Nilsen. The park’s chief arborist for 22 years until his 2008 retirement, Nilsen can meander to almost any spot here and feel the familiarity someone else might feel reading the newspaper in his bathrobe at home.”
“What you want,” Nilsen told Donohue, “is an ecosystem that’s dense and robust–complex. But we live in a city. A dog goes off leash, the soil’s disturbed, and weeds come in. Someone builds a patio upstream, there’s erosion, and more disturbance.”
As Donohue concludes: “Forest Park will never be Yellowstone. But perhaps it’s the park’s very vulnerability that will save it. People love the place because it’s so improbable, this wilderness in the city; they marvel over how it is at once familiar and vast.”
Friends of Trees is pleased to have been part of the Forest Park restoration effort for more than two decades now. Our first Gift Tree planting was held in Forest Park, and our current Gift Tree plantings are held in The Collins Sanctuary adjacent to Forest Park. Our Green Space Initiative program leads restoration work parties in the park each year.
We’re also grateful for all the contributions Fred Nilsen has made–to Friends of Trees, Forest Park, and all who benefit from Portland’s trees.