Governor Kotek’s HPAC proposes overriding tree codes in favor of development.
Governor Kotek’s Housing Production Advisory Council (HPAC) is currently planning to bring forward recommendations that include the overriding of tree codes for plots smaller than 6,000 square feet, which will explicitly allow clear cutting of trees under 48″ diameter, which includes the vast majority of urban trees. This recommendation stands in stark contrast to work taking place throughout the state and nation to increase tree cover as a key tool for growing climate-resilient cities. Read more here.
HPAC has a hearing on Friday, September 29th where this facet of their proposal will be discussed.
We recognize the urgent need for affordable housing, but housing and trees should not be mutually exclusive. Friends of Trees, the Shade Equity Coalition (we’re a member!), and many other environmental organizations around the state believe the proposal is unnecessarily pitting the housing and climate emergencies against one another. Unfortunately, this advisory body in question does not have a representative from the environmental justice sector to speak to shade equity, climate change, and the myriad of benefits urban trees provide to Oregonians. This is our chance to voice our concerns.
HOW TO TESTIFY
Suggested Talking Points from Trees for Life Oregon
—At a time of climate crisis, throwing climate- and tree-related regulations out the window is a misguided, short-sighted way to speed up housing construction—and a sure way to guarantee that the state and its cities and towns will be unable to meet their own planned climate and canopy goals.
—Many factors affect developers’ ability to build more affordable housing faster. Tree protections are hardly key among them. Portland’s tree code gives developers the option of paying fees to remove trees in lieu of preserving them. Builders have been paying these fees as they do other business expenses, deeming them worth it in order to build more revenue-generating units or a larger single home whose price will more than cover any tree-removal fees they might have paid. Moreover, simply doing away with tree protections will not guarantee that builders will create more affordable housing.
—We oppose HPAC’s proposal to essentially override municipal tree codes like Portland’s that took many people many years and much effort to put into place. Tree codes were created to ensure Oregon remains a livable place we can all be proud to live in. The Portland tree code, for one, was in the end strongly influenced by developers and is already weak as is.
—We oppose HPAC’s recommendations to erode state and local wetland and environmental zone protections. Such changes will certainly impact trees.
—Governor Kotek’s HPAC is proposing to do away with environment regulations that developers have wanted to eliminate for years. When selecting HPAC’s members Governor Kotek did not include broader voices that would reflect the reality that we are facing both a housing and a climate crisis, and that both need to be addressed in an integrated way.
We hope you’ll take this opportunity to let your voice be heard.
Friends of Trees | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information:
Friends of Trees: Yashar Vasef, Executive Director; [email protected]
Please contract coalition members for more information about their organization’s specific project role and activities (details below)
Portland, Ore. (9-14-23) — An 11-member coalition led by Friends of Trees was awarded a $12 million Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the Inflation Reduction Act grants. The grant will fund the engagement of low canopy neighborhoods included in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative, which will bring resources to communities most impacted by climate change, pollution, and environmental hazards.
The partner coalition includes APANO, Black Parent Initiative, City of Gresham, City of Portland, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Connecting Canopies, Depave, POIC, Verde, and Wisdom of the Elders. The $12 million award will direct funds to these partners and Friends of Trees across five years. This is a partial award, as the original request was for $17.5 million, and the details of the award have not yet been provided.
The coalition’s proposal includes funding for community forestry work including tree planting, natural area restoration, post-planting care, community education, opportunities for direct community input and participation, and workforce training.
“This award is a validation of community tree planting as a model,” says Friends of Trees Executive Director Yashar Vasef. “Especially in the face of intensifying climate change, authentic community partnerships have a huge part to play in growing and maintaining our urban forests.”
The project includes:
- community tree planting (training and engaging volunteers) to plant up to 2,300 street and yard trees and 21,000 native shrubs in neighborhoods and natural areas, specifically in identified equity areas: East Multnomah County, West Eugene, and Springfield
- robust post-planting care, including watering, mulching, and natural area maintenance
- community education
- opportunities for direct community input and participation
- workforce training
In addition to community tree planting and tree care, thousands of additional trees and native shrubs will be planted and cared for by coalition partners through other methods.
“This project represents a tremendous investment in growing our community’s canopy,” Vasef says. “That means engaging the community in efforts to both plant and care for trees.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA’s Forest Service is awarding more than $1 billion in competitive grants to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature. Friends of Trees’ partner application is one of 385 proposals that were accepted across the nation.
In addition to affirming the effectiveness of the community tree planting model, this award demonstrates that policymakers are listening to the science. It’s widely accepted that trees play a vital role in combating climate change and providing public health benefits. A recent study using 14 years of Friends of Trees planting data associates neighborhood tree planting with fewer deaths.
“This isn’t just the coalition’s award, this is our communities’ award,” says Vasef. “This coalition represents a broad, diverse cross section of our communities, and these communities will be directly involved with, and will directly benefit from, this project.”
Friends of Trees (FriendsofTrees.org)
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 945,000+ trees and native plants in neighborhoods and natural areas in six counties across two states in the 35 years since its founding. Learn more about The Friends of Trees Way.
Please contract coalition members for more information about their organization’s specific project role and activities:
- APANO: Duncan Hwang, [email protected]
- The Black Parent Initiative: Leigh Bohannon, [email protected]
- Columbia Slough Watershed Council: Max Samuelson or Heather King, [email protected]; [email protected]
- Connecting Canopies: Theresa Huang or Derron Coles, [email protected]; [email protected]
- Depave: Katya Reyna, [email protected]
- City of Gresham: Tina Osterink or Sarah Cagann, [email protected]; [email protected]
- City of Portland: Mark Ross, [email protected]
- Rosemary Anderson High School/POIC: Leigh Rappaport, [email protected]
- Verde: Jasmine Co or Amandeep Sohi, [email protected], [email protected]
- Wisdom of the Elders: Adrienne Moat, [email protected]
How does Friends of Trees set trees up for a long, impactful life?
Trees are one of the most cost-effective answers we have to the growing challenges of climate change. It’s a simple fact that we need more trees and native plants. But it’s not as simple as just planting them. To make sure that trees and plants survive and thrive, we need to invest in after-planting care. Watering, mulching, and regular inspection during a tree’s first three years, plus appropriate pruning in a tree’s first seven years, do wonders for setting that tree up to provide its full benefit for decades and beyond.
“In short, trees are cheap and human lives are valuable.”
-USFS Researcher Dr. Geoffrey Donovan, whose research found an association between trees planted by Friends of Trees and lower mortality (Learn more)
We’ve planted close to a million trees and native plants in the 34 year history of Friends of Trees. We know that they don’t all make it. But when we plant The Friends of Trees Way, we are working hard to ensure that trees and native plants flourish, so that they can shade our homes and streets, clean our air and water, and make our neighborhoods more liveable.
RIGHT TREE, RIGHT PLACE
Planting trees in an urban environment presents unique challenges to trees that would otherwise do well in a forest. Climate change complicates the matter even further. The success of a tree has so much to do with its specific environment—soil, space, sunlight, and moisture availability. Making thoughtful choices for each and every tree and green space planting site—and incorporating climate-adaptive species whenever possible—is a huge part of setting trees and plants up for success.
“The better we can guide folks to right tree, right place, the lower maintenance and longer lived our trees will be,” says Senior Neighborhood Trees Specialist Andrew Land. “Plant a shade-lover in full sun and you’ll either need to water it regularly to keep it looking fresh or you’ll need to replace it before long.”
POST-PLANTING INSPECTION AND CARE
The work doesn’t stop after a tree goes into the ground. We build three years of post-planting establishment care into our tree care plans. Making sure a tree is watered and mulched during those first few years is crucial. We train volunteers to serve as summer inspectors who visit trees twice during their first summer and make recommendations to the tree recipient as needed.
We also provide tree recipients with educational materials after the planting, send mailings and reminder emails. See our tree care guide here.
Hotter and drier summers in the Willamette Valley will make tree survival increasingly challenging regardless of who planted them. This is why Friends of Trees is encouraging funders to evolve our standardized three-year tree care model to five years of watering, summer monitoring, and periodic tree pruning.
One of the reasons that the Friends of Trees tree planting model centers on community tree education and volunteerism is because it produces an extra layer of stewardship and protection for those trees planted by community members. By working with tree recipients, volunteer planters and volunteer summer inspectors, we help tree knowledge spread throughout the neighborhoods where we work, and more and more people become invested in the health of the trees and can help identify trees in need of assistance and care for them before it’s too late.
People want to plant trees, and that’s awesome! But we need support for post-planting care, too. At Friends of Trees, we don’t just plant a tree and walk away. It’s imperative to make sure that trees get the chance to flourish, especially in places like East Portland, a low-canopy area of the city that accounts for many of the city’s heat-related deaths.
When a volunteer plants a tree, it often becomes sentimental and the volunteer becomes invested in seeing the tree healthily mature over the years. This is the sort of relationship with trees that we encourage with our tree recipients and volunteers. Trees are more than a utility to be managed. They provide benefits both tangible and intangible, and they enrich our lives and communities, more and more as they grow and mature.
In honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day, and in celebration of all we do together to make our world greener and healthier for all, Friends of Trees is celebrating for the entire month of April–and here’s how you can join in!
We have $17,000 in Earth Month Challenges from Portland General Electric, Laughing Planet Cafe, Cafe Yumm, Level Beer, Deschutes Brewing. Donate here, your donation will make 2x the difference!
JOIN US FOR A TREE WALK & TALK, PLANT GIVEAWAY, AND FUNDRAISER
Wednesday, April 26, 6-8p.m. ~ Level Beer, northeast Portland
Friends of Trees benefit night at Level Beer on April 26. On the 26th all Level locations are donating 100% of proceeds from their Earth Day beer to trees + community (that’s us ;). We’ll be on site at Level’s northeast Portland location from 6 to about 8 (we’ll be based in the Annex), we’ll host a tree walk among the trees and shrubs we planted there this season + we’ll have some trees & plants to give away.
- VOLUNTEER! Check out our event calendar for volunteer opportunities.
- Earth Month fundraisers for Friends of Trees!
- Until October 2023 Laughing Planet Cafe is donating $1 from every kids smoothie!
- On Earth Day, April 22, Cafe Yumm is donating 10% of all proceeds from ALL Oregon locations – WOW!
- Every Tuesday in April, Deschutes Brewery Portland is donating $1 per pint sold to Friends of Trees throughout the day. Thanks to Deschutes for being our Earth Day Oregon partners this year!
- And in Eugene, for the entire month of April Alesong Brewing will be donating 25% of all revenue from bottle and draft sales of Rolling Mist, a farmhouse ale made with Sitka spruce tips foraged from the coast – wow, what an ale!
TREE SALE & NATIVE PLANT GIVEAWAYS!
Earth Day, Saturday, April 22:
- Friends of Trees annual shade tree sale. Large stock trees at discounted prices! Learn more here.
- Native Tree & Plant Giveaway at Happy Valley Park. Are you a Clackamas County resident? Would you like a free native plant or two? Come visit us at Happy Valley Park (13770 SE Ridgecrest Rd, Happy Valley, OR 97086 ) between 9:30am & 12:30 pm – four plants per household and first come, first served! Thanks to our sponsors The Arbor Day Foundation and State Farm Insurance for the plants!
- Stay tuned to our social media channels for some EXTRA special content. (Instagram / Facebook).
- Visit our YouTube channel for some tree walks & talks with Friends of Trees staff + friends.
Check back, this page will be updated throughout April!
THANK YOU TO OUR EARTH MONTH SPONSORS!
This year during Earth Month, we’re celebrating Community Climate Action. What’s Community Climate Action? It’s planting trees, together, and so much more.
Tackling climate change goes hand-in-hand with community action. At Friends of Trees, we’ve heard from countless volunteers about how planting trees makes them feel more connected to trees, more observant of trees’ health, and more eager to care for them. We’ve witnessed time and time again how a volunteer begins with tree planting and goes on to engage further with environmental issues, including combating climate change. It’s a ripple effect that can begin with a single tree.
HAPPY EARTH MONTH!
Considering Natives and Climate Adapted Non-natives
The right tree, right place ethos is complicated by urban environments and climate change
We invite you to consider the cascara (Frangula purshiana), a tree native to the Pacific Northwest. It has pretty autumn colors, does well in both shade and sun, and is a great backyard habitat tree, with small berries that attract native and migrating birds. This low-maintenance tree is a wonderful native option for your street or yard, and we still have plenty available in our tree store this season!
We’re big fans of native trees at Friends of Trees. It’s important to steward native plants as food and shelter for native animals, and in so many instances, natives are the right choice when you’re looking to put the right tree in the right place.
“There’s always a place for native trees in our hearts and in our gardens,” says Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Andrew Land. “But there’s also a place for non-native, locally hardy trees in the urban environment.”
The urban environment presents unique challenges to trees that would otherwise do well in a forest. Concrete and asphalt trap both heat and cold. The soil is often stripped of top soil and compacted. And trees are usually stranding alone, rather than part of a multilayered forest ecosystem.
Urban spaces are also usually a degree or two warmer than natural areas, which is only made worse by climate change. Some local species, like the western red cedar, are already struggling due to warmer temperatures.
“The climate is changing, and we can anticipate it continuing to change dramatically,” Andrew says. “So it makes sense to consider trees that would do well here, especially if they’re drought-tolerant free of pests and disease. We’re told to consider planting trees that thrive 500 miles south of here, because those should thrive here in 20 years based on climate change models.”
One such non-native is the ‘Persian spire’ Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica ‘JL Columnar’), a columnar cultivar of a tree native to Iran. It’s drought-tolerant, has no problems with pests or diseases, and is expected to do well as a street or yard tree in the face of climate change. It’s a great alternative to cascara that you should have no qualms about selecting.
Another is the swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor, shout out to our Year of the Oak!), which is native to eastern North America and one of our favorite oaks. It turns out that trees well-suited to swamps also do really well in urban environments. Their roots are accustomed to anaerobic conditions. Whether they’re underwater or under concrete, they can handle a lack of oxygen. 400 swamp white oaks were planted at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
The American hophornbeam is another great backyard tree. It’s native to eastern North America, and has flowers that look like hops, a characteristic that makes them feel right at home here.
“When it comes to considering trees for our urban forest, variety is really the spice of life,” Andrew says. “If a disease or pest takes out a particular species, you don’t want that to be the only tree you have. Diversity creates resilience.”