News from Friends of Trees

February 2020


Fighting climate change, growing community AND managing stormwater

In 2008, Friends of Trees and the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services embarked together on a transformative journey to boost green infrastructure in Portland. This initiative built on the Big Pipe project and used green infrastructure to reduce environmental impacts of urban stormwater. Along with creating bioswales, installing green roofs and adding new natural areas, this project mandated the planting of tens of thousands of trees in Portland.

This partnership resulted in 37,676 street trees planted in Portland since 2008, and these street trees intercept 9.6 million gallons of rain each year.1 The trees planted through this partnership represent just a portion of all street and yard trees planted by Friends of Trees since 1989, which is more than 50,000 across the region.

Why all the fuss about stormwater? Learn more in the next story.

This project didn’t just plant small trees and hope for the best. Then-Mayor Sam Adams prioritized planting and caring for large stock trees. Planting larger trees means, of course, that all of the benefits are realized much sooner than if smaller trees were planted.

Caring for the trees is equally important: Friends of Trees’ program includes post-planting support and care, which helps ensure that the trees we plant survive and thrive. Our monitoring program builds on that, telling us how many of the trees we plant survive—and our trees have an excellent survival rate: The survival rate for urban trees planted by Friends of Trees is 97% (based on Portland street trees planted during our last two seasons).

It’s not just stormwater. These trees deliver a triple bottom line, beyond stormwater management:

1. Most of the trees planted through this partnership are planted in historically under-served, low-canopy neighborhoods, bringing the countless benefits of trees to the neighborhoods that need them most.

2. The trees planted are now on the front lines of fighting climate change; each tree we plant will offset 13-48 lbs. of carbon annually.2

3. When planted the Friends of Trees way, with thousands of volunteers, trees grow community. And now more than ever, we need ways to come together as a community, and we need trees.

We’re not done! About 100,000 street tree planting locations remain available in Portland, not to mention throughout our service area that runs from Southwest Washington down to Lane County. We plant a lot of trees every year: Just last season we planted 3,500 street & yard trees and 46,000 seedlings and native shrubs. We know our region and our planet needs more trees and more community-building, and we look forward to enhancing and expanding the wide variety of partnerships we enjoy toward planting a greener and healthier future.

  1. Data provided by City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
  2. Depending on the age of the tree.

Some of this content is from a video about the project, check it out here.

Get to Know Trees as Stormwater Filters

Why all the fuss about managing stormwater? Simply put, stormwater pollutes waterways. “Stormwater runoff carries dirt, oil and other pollutants to rivers and streams. It can also cause erosion and flooding that harm properties and wildlife habitat.1

Traditionally, and still common throughout the country, stormwater is primarily managed through “grey” solutions such as massive construction and excavation projects that install giant pipes to divert the wastewater. Thinking green, Portland conducted a study and found there could be significant savings in the cost of the Big Pipe project by including green infrastructure along with wider sewer pipes.2 Other cities are catching on; Friends of Trees regularly receives inquiries from other cities (a recent call came from Louisville, KY) looking for more information about this partnership and its benefits.

Per an agreement between Portland Parks and Recreation and BES, “Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services recognizes that, among the numerous environmental, economic, and social benefits trees provide, they can work for clean rivers by helping to manage stormwater where it falls. Planting trees can expand and enhance the urban forest canopy and help the city meet key goals of several plans,” including the City’s Climate Action Plan and Watershed Management Plan.3

In other words, BES recognizes the multiple bottom line trees deliver, and how essential trees are to a healthy, equitable and livable city. For more information about trees and stormwater management (and to check out a very cool interactive model that demonstrates trees’ impact), visit our friends at the Arbor Day Foundation. And when you can safely swim in a river or eat fish from a lake this summer be sure to thank the trees.

  1. BES
  2. City of Portland; ECONorthwest, et al report; NRDC report
  3. Portland Parks and BES agreement


News from Friends of Trees Eugene

It’s time for Eugene’s annual Celebration of Trees!

At this annual gathering friends old and new come together to eat, drink and celebrate everything we love about community tree planting in the Eugene-Springfield area. Join us!

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Wesley Foundation Center

2520 Harris St, Eugene

6:00 – 8:00 p.m. | No charge

RSVP or for more information: [email protected], (541) 632-3683

We’re still planting trees, join us at our next event! We’ll be planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers this Saturday, and street and yard trees in South Eugene neighborhoods on March 7th. Details about those events and others are in our Eugene planting calendar. We look forward to planting trees with you!


Friends of Trees is fortunate to enjoy the support of so many amazing volunteers, donors, and partners — this is how more than 50,000 trees and shrubs are planted every year!

Planting so many trees and shrubs with so many people also takes a lot of … stuff, and when something we really need is donated that means we can use the money we would have spent on it for … you guessed it: planting trees.

Here are a few items we can use, good working condition, please!

  • Truck: Full size pick-up truck with low mileage, automatic transmission, ideally four-wheel drive.
  • Camera: Digital, weather-proof, shock-proof, video capability, easy to use, point & shoot, compact.
  • Projector: Full color, USB-laptop connectivity, portable.

If you can help out with any of these items please email us; please do not bring any items to the office without touching base with us first. We’re happy to supply donors with an in-kind donation receipt. Thank you!


You know spring is in the air when it’s time for the 2 Towns Ciderhouse-Friends of Trees benefit! Once again our good friends at 2 Towns are donating $2 to trees + community for every case of 2 Towns Cider or SeekOut Seltzer sold during the month of March, up to $5,000. Cheers!


Spring is just around the corner, come on outside and plant trees with us! The following events need YOU as a volunteer tree planter:

  • March 7 in NE Portland/Boise Eliot neighborhood; South Eugene
  • March 14 in N Portland/Arbor Lodge-Kenton neighborhoods
  • March 21 in Happy Valley; NE Vancouver; West Eugene
  • March 28 Durham City Park

… and so many more!

Please visit the Portland Metro area planting calendar or the Eugene-Springfield calendar for exact locations and for more opportunities for you to make a difference through planting trees, together.

Are you interested in planting trees at a private event with your group? NOW is the time to plan your private tree planting event if you’d like to have one in April in honor of Earth Day or Arbor Day, contact Sam to get started.

Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the natural

world around them through a simple solution:

Planting Trees. Together.

(503) 282-8846: Portland office

(541) 632-3683: Eugene office

Learn more about how Friends of Trees greens our region + grows community through checking out other issues of Treemail here