Your voice is needed for more trees in Portland

A new tree in East Portland - planted by volunteers!

We need your voice to help make sure that tree planting efforts in Portland are equitable, inclusive and community-driven.

You may have heard of the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF), approved by voters in November 2018. PCEF is intended to provide a consistent, long-term funding source to ensure that our community’s climate action efforts support social, economic and environmental benefits for all Portlanders, particularly communities of color and people with low incomes.

PCEF has dedicated $40 million for tree planting and tree care. The Equitable Tree Canopy Program will work in Portland’s most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods to equitably plant and establish 15,000 – 25,000 trees on public and private property.

Friends of Trees testified at City Council in support of this exciting initiative and continues to be engaged in the process, partaking in three roundtable conversations that helped inform the current draft of the Equitable Tree Canopy Program.

Right now, PCEF is looking for feedback on the working draft, which you can review here. Feedback is due by March 2, 2023 and can be made through emailing [email protected]. Friends of Trees needs your help to promote these points:

  • Authentic community involvement in implementing the tree planting program. We recognize that the government, as the funding instrument, plays a role, but we know through 34 years of community tree planting that inclusive community engagement is key to ensuring buy-in and long-term success.
  • Flexibility in funding language. This is a new endeavor with a lot of funds available and a very ambitious goal. It’s critical that the City and PCEF allow for language that is responsive to community needs as this program is implemented and evolves.
  • Opt-in approaches for street AND yard tree planting. This means tree recipients proactively say Yes to a tree as a result of community based outreach and education. Friends of Trees knows that the opt-in method helps ensure that the trees that are planted survive and thrive because of the tree recipients’ buy-in.
  • Include funding for planting yard trees. We all know the benefits that street trees provide, like shaded sidewalks and cooler neighborhoods. We also know that many folks don’t have planting strips where they can plant a street tree, but do have space for yard trees, and others really want fruit trees (which aren’t the best street trees). The more trees the better!

This is not only a historic funding opportunity, it’s a chance for the City to take giant strides toward authentic community engagement through a structure that entrusts community organizations to co-manage the tree planting funds. And we’re set up for success with a model like this: Friends of Trees and other community stakeholders such as Verde and the Jade Greening Project have successful track records with authentic community engagement, community tree planting, and collaborating to achieve common goals inclusively and equitably.

Public comment periods are your chance to have your voice heard. Join us in supporting funding for community tree planting for years to come!