Friends of Trees’ follow up to statements about the end of its City of Portland partnership

Friends of Trees   |   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information:

Yashar Vasef, Executive Director, [email protected]

Kathy Armstrong, Development & Communications Director, [email protected]


Adding context to statements made about the end of Friends of Trees’ partnership with the City of Portland

Portland Parks & Recreation and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services issued statements in response to Friends of Trees’ opinion piece regarding a report detailing the decrease in Portland’s tree canopy and the city ending its 14 year tree planting partnership with Friends of Trees; Friends of Trees addresses potential misperceptions

Portland, Ore. (April 8, 2022) – In response to a Sunday, April 3, Oregonian Op-Ed from Friends of Trees’ executive director Yashar Vasef, which addressed Portland’s tree canopy loss and the end of Friends of Trees’ partnership with the City of Portland to plant street and yard trees in the city, two City of Portland bureaus involved with tree planting issued statements that could be considered incomplete when taken out of context. Friends of Trees addresses those statements with a goal of as much transparency as possible:

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), with which Friends of Trees has partnered since 2008, resulting in  40,000 street and yard trees planted in Portland neighborhoods, issued a statement confirming the end of the 14 year partnership. The statement also confirmed that BES is no longer planting street trees in light of “development of a street tree planting program by the Urban Forestry division at Portland Parks and Recreation.” BES goes on to share that it is shifting “its tree planting focus to private property, specifically commercial, industrial, and multifamily properties.” (the full statement is at the end of this release)

Vasef sheds some light on what seems to be missing from this new city tree planting strategy, “Yes, the BES contract is ending. We understand contracts end and we sincerely value the long and impactful partnership we had with BES. We’re proud of this work that has been replicated in other municipalities around the country and we’re heartened to hear that BES will continue to plant trees.

Vasef continues, “But the referenced plans do not speak to the community engagement model that we know has been a huge success. Addressing the inequities in our urban canopy and improving stewardship of trees will take a full community effort; government should continue to invest in community organizations that activate our neighbors and youth to help plant trees, and that help address inequities in our urban canopy by planting trees in neighborhoods that need it most. We are in a climate crisis and our response should be all hands on deck; and don’t forget, we all just learned that Portland’s tree canopy is actually decreasing, the city should be supporting as much tree planting as possible, not cutting back.”

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) issued the following statement: “Friends of Trees currently has an active five-year contract with Portland Parks & Recreation, now in its second year. The contract is to plant trees and provide three years of watering and establishment care. Friends of Trees was allocated $139,000.00 for this tree planting season, which they have not fully utilized. They are eligible to provide up to $1 million in contracted on-call services annually, under this contract with PP&R.” (This statement was shared with Friends of Trees by a media outlet, we were not provided with a contact name for this statement)

This statement only partially describes the actual situation and could suggest that there is still city investment in community tree planting. To clarify:

  • This contract with PP&R is separate from the contracts Friends of Trees has had with the Bureau of Environmental Services since 2008. Those BES contracts are the contracts that have planted 40,000 street and yard trees with community volunteers over the past 14 years.
  • Our contract with PP&R was for only two years of tree planting and that portion ends this year; this contract resulted in a total of 130 trees planted over two years. There is no future funding from this contract to plant trees, the remaining three years of the contract are only for tree care (mainly watering).
  • The trees planted through this contract are “opt out” plantings, meaning that the city identifies addresses where a street tree could be planted, they alert the property owner that a tree will be planted, and the property owner can then “opt out” (or, say no) if they do not want a tree. This method of tree planting does not involve any community engagement and, per the contract, volunteers cannot be involved.
  • Via this contract, in the beginning of our current planting season (which runs October – April) Friends of Trees received a list of addresses to plant a total of 80 trees, which we did; these trees were not planted with community volunteers. In February 2022, while we were in the midst of our community tree planting season, we were asked if we’d like another list of addresses to plant more trees; since we were in the middle of our season and this additional list was unexpected – and since this method of tree planting is not the Friends of Trees Way (engaging  volunteers, building relationships with tree recipients, and more) – we declined. This is why the full $139,000 contract was not utilized.
  • The $1 million reference could be misleading. Our understanding is that this is standard city contract language for this sort of contract, and that it’s in all contracts under $1 million (with different language for contracts over $1 million). We were not made aware of any potential to receive $1 million annually to plant trees through this contract with PP&R.

Vasef shares further information about Friends of Trees’ position regarding the end of our 14 year tree planting partnership with the city,

“First, it’s important to emphasize that Friends of Trees isn’t going anywhere. Thanks to our massive network of volunteers and generous donors, along with supportive municipal partners throughout the region, we will continue to plant trees and foster climate resiliency in numerous communities throughout western Oregon and southwest Washington.

“In terms of Portland tree planting, Friends of Trees encourages the city to continue supporting community-based tree planting for the comprehensive benefits it provides. As of now, we know of no official plan by the city to continue the community-engagement model that brings out thousands of volunteers to plant and care for trees, that helps create climate advocates in our community, empowers neighbors to be stewards of our neighborhood trees, collaborates with BIPOC organizations through youth programming, plus so much more.

“In the face of increasingly severe impacts of climate change we wonder why the city is ending its support of a demonstrably successful model and pivoting to a do-it-alone approach. Government, nonprofits, and Portlanders should all be planting trees with urgency and government should be investing in these outcomes; government alone will not fix this issue.

“Addressing the inequities in our urban canopy and improving stewardship of trees will take a full community effort. We believe the government should invest in community organizations that can activate our neighbors and youth to help plant trees, that inspire community members to become vocal advocates for climate action, and that help address inequities in our urban canopy by planting trees together in neighborhoods that need it most. Once more, climate change is here and it’s all hands on deck!”


Full statement from BES (This statement was shared with Friends of Trees by a media outlet, we were not provided with a contact name for this statement):

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) has held multiple contracts with Friends of Trees, focused on planting street trees throughout the city. The most recent contract was a five-year contract set to expire at the end of 2021. The end of this contract coincided with the development of a street tree planting program by the Urban Forestry division at Portland Parks and Recreation. This program included an on-call contract between Urban Forestry and Friends of Trees. With Urban Forestry’s new commitment to street tree plantings, BES saw an opportunity to shift its tree planting focus to private property, specifically commercial, industrial, and multifamily properties. The positive responses BES received from partnering business and property owners has been heartwarming – they are just as dedicated to the tree canopy and climate resilience as BES. To ensure a smooth transition of planting efforts from the right-of-way (street trees) to private property, BES extended the 5-year contract with Friends of Trees, adding $675,000 and moving the end date to June 30, 2022. Friends of Trees is anticipated to earn the full amount in their contract. BES is passionate about ensuring a healthy watershed for our community and recognizes the tree canopy is integral to those goals.


Friends of Trees (

Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the natural world around them through a simple solution: Planting Trees. Together.

Friends of Trees was founded in 1989 by a local community member who loved trees and started planting them in neighborhoods. Today, Friends of Trees is a nationally recognized, regional leader in improving the urban tree canopy and restoring sensitive natural areas—through programs delivered by thousands of volunteers. Friends of Trees has planted 900,000 trees and native plants in 120+ neighborhoods in six counties across two states in the 33 years since its founding.

Get To Know ChipDrop

Friends of Trees staff with ChipDrop Swag

You know that we’re big fans of mulch at Friends of Trees, and we use a lot of it. That’s why we are so excited about our partnership with ChipDrop, an app that matches people who want free wood chip mulch with arborists and tree companies who are trying to get rid of it. Instead of taking wood chips to the landfill, arborists can drop them off right at your garden.

“We wanted to get involved with organizations that are on the same page,” says ChipDrop Co-Founder Andrea Kappa. “Friends of Trees is already in the business of educating people about the benefits of mulch, amending your soil, and growing what you want to grow.”

ChipDrop sponsored four Friends of Trees plantings this year. We picked plantings in neighborhoods that already had ChipDrop activity, so it was an opportunity to educate people about wood chip mulch that could be available to them.

“There are plenty of people who are on the fence about it or don’t understand it,” says ChipDrop Co-Founder Bryan Kappa. “Partnering on plantings is a great way to help people understand the benefits.”

Volunteer scooping mulch

Think of what you can do with a truckload of mulch. “You can spread more than just a thin layer, and it will really amend your soil,” Bryan says. “So many people get frustrated that they can’t grow what they want to grow, and this is a way to do that.”

Beyond that, ChipDrop keeps material local and out of the landfill. If your neighbor has a tree taken down, that could become your wood chip mulch.

Of course, mulch is very important for newly planted urban trees. It reduces evaporation, delivers organic nutrients, and helps prevent the growth of weeds.

“Urban canopy is so important,” Andrea says. “Friends of Trees is taking huge leaps towards that. We’re super grateful for Friends of Trees as our first sponsorship. You’re such great supporters of what we do, and we foresee the partnership continuing into the future.”

Friends of Trees is searching for a contracted fundraiser in Eugene

POSITION TITLE: Fundraising Contractor

This is the first dedicated fundraising position for Friends of Trees Eugene and the goal is for this position to take fundraising for the Eugene program to the next level.

SUPERVISED BY: Development and Communications Director


PAY RANGE:  Hourly, $50/hour – $75/hour, DOE.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Open until filled.


EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Contracted, hourly. Approximately 50 hours a month for 6 months, some flexibility is possible.

LOCATION: Eugene, Oregon. This position is primarily remote with visits to the Eugene office and planting sites as necessary; we are looking for someone who lives in the Eugene area and is familiar with local businesses and institutions. The Eugene office follows COVID safety protocols per state and local guidelines.


  • Operate a computer and other office productivity machinery, such as a telephone or printer, for periods of time up to 8 hours.
  • Ability to easily move about in tree planting sites, in both urban and natural areas.
  • Ability to successfully work remotely; you need to provide your own  computer equipment.
  • Reliable transportation to be able to get to and from planting sites.
  • Friends of Trees wants to keep our staff, partners, volunteers, and the public we work with as safe as possible. We are requiring employees, and this position, to be vaccinated for COVID-19.


As the contract development officer, you will work closely with the Eugene director and Portland fundraising staff to reach new individual and corporate donors, in addition to growing the engagement of current donors. This is the first dedicated fundraising position for Friends of Trees Eugene and the goal is for this position to take fundraising for the Eugene program to the next level, with more and deeper individual donor engagement and significantly increased prospecting, cultivation and engagement of business donors. This opportunity includes the ability to find, cultivate and engage new donors throughout the Eugene/Springfield region. First year fundraising goals of 25-40% growth are attainable and will be celebrated.

This person will plan, coordinate and implement all aspects of a Eugene fundraising program, in collaboration with the Portland fundraising staff and with data entry and some database reporting support from the Portland-based Development Specialist. This position will interact with the Eugene office staff on a regular basis for program information; attending some Eugene volunteer planting events will also be necessary in order to gather program content.

While current fundraising staff will work closely with this position, this position will need to be able to work successfully independently and will drive this programming. The ultimate goal, should this position be successful, is adding a permanent fundraising staff position based in Eugene.


  • Develop and execute an annual individual donor fundraising plan for Eugene Friends of Trees, including generating original content for fundraising letters. Responsible for all coordination of mailed and electronic appeal letters.
  • Coordinate and support Major Donor efforts involving the Executive Director, Deputy Director, Eugene Director and/or Eugene advisory board of directors; directly participate in major donor cultivation as appropriate.
  • Leverage the Friends of Trees brand with integrity and creativity to maintain and grow business and corporate donors. Manage all aspects of this fundraising area including generating prospect lists; proactively contacting business prospects; build relationships and generate proposals specific to individual businesses.
  • Coordinate as necessary with communications staff to utilize website and social media to support fundraising efforts.
  • Analyze fundraising data through the CRM system; customize and pull reports as needed.


  • Minimum 3-5 years progressive experience managing all aspects of a successful nonprofit fundraising program specific to individual and business donors.
  • Solid record of achieving revenue goals.
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills, both internally and externally, for a variety of audiences.
  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a team.
  • Ability to juggle multiple priorities and exercise initiative.
  • Strong working knowledge of CRM data systems, email marketing programs, and Microsoft and Adobe suite of products. Experience with Salesforce preferred.
  • A positive, flexible attitude and a sense of humor.
  • Passion for FOT’s mission.
  • Experience with and dedication to working with diverse teams and constituents in a respectful, equitable, and inclusive fashion.


  • Strong working knowledge of Salesforce database.
  • Experience with or strong working knowledge of environmental issues, including environmental/climate justice.
  • Basic graphic design and website management skills.



Position open until filled. Email a resume, cover letter, and contact information for 3 professional references to Kathy Armstrong with Eugene fundraiser in the subject line.

  • Please ensure your resume addresses your specific qualifications for this position.
  • In a brief cover letter, please:
    • Explore how you would approach this position. What would you do first? How would you split your time each week/month?
    • Provide examples of or hyperlinks to 2-3 pieces of fundraising communication for which you directly created the content.


Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the world around them through a simple solution: Planting trees. Together.

Friends of Trees is a nationally recognized, regional leader in improving the urban tree canopy and restoring sensitive natural areas—through programs delivered by thousands of volunteers at more than 100 community tree planting and tree care events every season. Founded in 1989, Friends of Trees is in its 33rd season of organizing community tree planting and tree care events in the Portland and Eugene Metro areas.  For more information, please visit

Friends of Trees recognizes that not everyone has equal access to the benefits of trees and healthy urban green spaces based on racial and socioeconomic status, and we are committed to building a culturally diverse and inclusive environment. Candidates of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Friend of Trees provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, national origin, age, disability or genetics.

Campus ReLeaf engages UO students to plant trees + grow community

The streets around the University of Oregon are cooler, safer and greener thanks to the hundreds of trees planted through an ongoing community partnership between Friends of Trees Eugene and UO’s Holden Center.

Every season 40-50 student volunteers from the Holden Center join FOTE during Earth Week for a UO Day of Service, planting and caring for street trees in neighborhoods filled with UO student rentals—they’re literally greening their own backyards! (OK, front yards 😉 The student volunteers help plant 50 trees every year during this event, along with helping to care for previously planted trees.

“I’m really excited that these trees are near campus, so I can watch these trees I helped plant grow.” Dayton, Holden Center FOTE volunteer.

An added bonus of this partnership is that many of these trees play a role in how we consider climate change when choosing trees to plant. This area is part of FOTE’s climate adaptive plantings, where we plant and monitor species such as Blue oak, California black oak, and canyon live oak. These species are appropriate for the hotter summers and more severe weather that come with climate change and we’re actively measuring their performance toward helping us plan future plantings.

“I love this program! This event was one of my first experiences as an FOTE Crew Leader, while I was still a UO student. So this event is extra special to me now that I’m on FOTE staff, it’s so gratifying to see this partnership continue after so many years!” Taylor Glass, FOTE Volunteer & Program Specialist

UO’s Holden Center engages UO students in “activities to develop unique talents and leadership skills in order to affect positive change and engage our community” and involves a wide array of UO students. In fact, some Holden Center students volunteered as high school students with FOT events in the Portland area, and they chose to participate with FOTE as part of their Holden Center activities because of their earlier, positive FOT volunteer experience

There’s often some flair from students at these events. For instance, yellow & green duct tape are usually on hand to liven up tree stakes; and sometimes the trees are named, with favorites including, McDuck, Linden Tree Johnson, and Roger.

We often hear from Holden Center students that volunteering with us was the first time they ever held a shovel, or ever planted anything—pretty common feedback from volunteers. And if our 32 years of community tree planting experience tell us anything, for many of these students, it’s just the beginning of a green path.

Get involved with trees + community in Eugene! Details here.

Photo: UO Holden Center student volunteers.

You can help test a new way to plant & care trees

We have a new, unique volunteer opportunity Aug 20th & 21st in Tualatin at beautiful Brown’s Ferry Park.
Due to safety concerns with COVID-19, we’re trialing a style of community-powered event we’re calling a “Do-It-Yourself Event.” With our friends at the City of Tualatin, FOT is hosting a mulching party where volunteers sign up for a 1.5 hr shift.  Mulching is an important step to ensure the highest levels of survival for these recently planted trees and shrubs during tough summer conditions. Each shift will have only one volunteer (maybe more if any of your household members also want to attend). You (and your household members) will be the only ones on site during your shift time.  You’ll be sent detailed information before your shift starts so you’re prepared to have fun and make a difference!  This is the very first time we’ve tried this event model, and if successful FOT will host more of this sort of event.  Will you help us trial something new and green the community at the same time?
When:  Saturday, August 15th – Friday, August 21st — shifts available on the 20th & 21st
Where:  Brown’s Ferry Park, Tualatin (map) *exact meeting address sent upon registering
What to expect: Volunteer activities will involve filling 5-gallon buckets with mulch from a big mulch pile and carefully depositing the mulch around small native trees and shrubs.  Before your shift begins, you’ll be sent detailed instructions on site location and mulching how-tos.  Wear close-toed shoes or boots, clothes you’re comfortable getting dirty in, and a brimmed hat and sunscreen.  We’re also asking that you bring and wear a face mask as you volunteer.  Please plan to bring your own water and snacks, unfortunately due to COVID-19 FOT will not be providing refreshments.  Friends of Trees will provide all tools and sanitizing spray.  If you have your own work gloves, please bring them.  If you need to borrow a pair of gloves, please let us know and we’ll have some on site waiting for you.  FOT has our gloves professionally washed between each and every use.
How to sign-up: Use our Volunteer Page to sign-up for the shift of your choice.  Our system will only allow one person to sign-up per shift.  If you have two or more adults in your household and you would all like to volunteer together, please let us know and we can send you the appropriate online sign-up form.  Pre-registration is required in order to participate.  Youth (anyone under 18) are welcome to volunteer as well.  Youth 15 and under will need a parent/guardian present to volunteer. Youth age 16 and 17 may volunteer without an adult.
Your valued feedback + Zoom Party: This is a trial run for this “DIY” event model. Your feedback, should you have any, is invaluable. After your volunteer shift we’ll send you a survey to request your feedback. It’s okay if you don’t have any feedback too.  We’ll also be hosting a Zoom call after all volunteer shifts have ended on Fri, Aug 21st, 5pm to celebrate your successes!  Join this optional call to hear about the collective progress that was made and ask questions of our staff!
We’ll have more updates on these and other events when planting season arrives later in Fall 2020. Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with Jenny, Pablo, or Carey on our Volunteer & Outreach team: [email protected]
Thank you!