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Bridge project that’s part of North Portland Greenway raises concerns over tree removal

Posted by on February 21st, 2013 at 2:35 pm

City design plans showing tree slated for removal.

A bridge project in St. Johns that’s part of the North Portland greenway and the 40-Mile Loop has gotten some unwanted attention this week. Portland Parks & Recreation is set to start construction on a new biking and walking bridge between Pier Park and Chimney Park; but removal of a large sequoia tree has sparked an outcry from at least one concerned citizen.

The story broke earlier this week on KATU-TV:

“The bridge would be part of the ten-mile North Portland greenway. Right now, Union Pacific Railroad tracks separate the two parks and the bridge would go over those tracks. But construction plans call for one giant sequoia inside Pier Park to fall in the process.

It is a tough pill to swallow for Dennis Keepes. He has sounded the alarm bells, trying to build enough support to save the tree.”

Here’s the KATU segment video:

Apparently that story spurred enough concern with other residents that, according to the Willamette Week, the City has decided to deploy a professional mediator to settle the situation.

Here’s a snip from the Willamette Week story:

“We’re under direction from the mayor’s office that we make sure everyone understands the process,” says Parks Bureau Spokesman Mark Ross. He says the mediator has been brought out “for the two people who are adamant that they don’t want to see the tree cut down under any circumstances.”

Given the range of controversies bike-related projects often encounter, it’s unfortunate that it has come to this. The City plans to cut the tree down this week — that is if they can resolve the opposition first.

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Nick
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Nick

It would be nice to hear a serious explanation of why the tree needs to be killed. All I’ve seen so far amounts to “the tree hugger guy doesn’t want it cut down” and “the Parks Bureau says they have to cut it down.” Can’t they go around it? Why not? It appears that there’s plenty of space.

Patrick
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Patrick

If it were critical infrastructure, they would find a way around it.

Actual Beaver
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Actual Beaver

If the mediator can’t solve the problem it seems like it would take about 10 minutes to girdle the tree sufficiently to end the debate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girdling

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

I don’t believe “bicycle” or “bike path” was mentioned at all by KATU. Instead, “pedestrian”: and “greenway”. Evolution in perception.

Allan
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Allan

Does it make cycling advocates look sane when this guy is the opposition?

Granpa
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Granpa

The property is owned by Portland Parks and they have an interest in saving trees. If you look at the graphic you see that the portion of the park where the bridge approach is located is surrounded by trees, all of which are massive sequoia. The designer made every effort to avoid trees, but routing a paved multi use path through those woods could not be done without this casualty. This bridge is part of the infrastructure that Bike Portland readers have been clamoring for, and the route will bring more people into this wonderful grove of redwoods than ever knew it existed. You need to break some eggs to make an omelet.

maxd
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maxd

It would be great to see a couple of alternative trail alignments reviewed by Landscape Architects and reviewed by an arborist to see if this tree could be saved. There are trail-building techniques and arboricultural techniques that can often accommodate trails near trees.

was carless
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was carless

I wonder if it would be possible to drive a couple of small steel piles into the ground and support a light steel framed onramp near the tree instead of cutting it down?

Or build something like the Capilano Suspension Bridge/elevated tree paths in British Columbia:

http://www.capbridge.com/explore/park-overview/

yellowjacket
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yellowjacket

Why not route the Green Trail where it was originally supposed to be, along the south side of the Columbia Slough beginning at Portland Road? This would extend the bike trail that already runs from Denver Street to Portland Road. The trail would run on an existing dirt road, then cut over the landfill and join another dirt road that begins at the water control structure and runs all the way to Kelly Point Park. No tree cutting required, and it would be in a gorgeous natural setting. But the Friends of Smith & Bybee Lakes nixed that route which was actually in a Master Plan.

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

Seems like a crappy thing to have to do in order to encourage healthy activities. I vote for re-routing, redesigning, or whatever they need to do to save the tree.

just joe
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just joe

The reason for the need to remove the tree(s) is the need to have sufficient height to provide clearance over the railroad. This is at the only sufficiently high elevation to satisfy engineering requirements. To meet those requirements at another location would require bringing in large amounts of fill, and having to remove many other trees. Friends of Pier Park , the advocacy group working at Pier has known about the need for over a year, I believe. It was no secret that the trees would be removed, it was only when a notice was tacked to the tree that Dennis got involved. His main complaint was the city not following the same requirements a property owner must.
He does not have the support of the Friends of Pier,nor the St Johns Neighborhood Assoc. He requested SJNA support and did not get it. He does know how to get Channel 2 out there.

bjorn
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bjorn

This kind of thing is the reason why I refuse to plant trees that will grow to any height on my property, if you want a giant sequoia in your yard fine, but one tree more or less in the city is not going to matter and I am sure the parks department will probably end up planting a number of trees in the process of landscaping the bridge. Trees are good, but when you make them impossible to cut down you create a huge disincentive for anyone to want to allow one to be planted on land they control.

Psyfalcon
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Psyfalcon

I think a lot of people have a certain reaction to “sequoia.” Over logging, trying to protect them in California and so on. Up here though, they’re not native, or endangered, they’re an ornamental species planted by people.

john peterson
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john peterson

find a re-route or explain why a re-route is not possible…problem solved

Arem
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Arem

Can’t please everyone…and attempting to is a task in futility.

dk
Guest
dk

if he were fighting to save a tree from the road, we’d all be on his side. Just sayin’ Am I calling some of you hypocrytites, no. But if you think maybe you are.. well then, that’s your cross to bear.

Terry D
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Terry D

Anyone who knows anything about engineering and looks at the sight would realize that this tree needs to go if those two parks are going to ever be connected. What use is having excellent parks if you can not get to them? Just look at the area before you freak out……this is one tree of many in a grove not an esteemed tree of special historical worth. It was planted when the park was established. The park’s department is planting many…many…replacements.

ScoBu
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ScoBu

One of the reasons I love walking through this park is that it has the feeling of some of my favorite old growth forests in the back country. Tall trees, no underbrush..it has that amazing vertical and horizontal space that you can only find in places with old growth. Granted, you don’t see too many frisbee discs thrown around in the back country but it doesn’t take away from that feeling. My point is that taking this one tree does nothing to the overall esthetic of the park. It won’t really change the immediate area where it stands. I live in St Johns and take my dog to Chimney Park nearly every day (it is mainly a fenced, off leash dog park if anyone is curious). I walk there a lot have to cross the rail road tracks or head over the Columbia Ave bridge. Both are doable, but neither is preferable. The bridge has a ton of broken glass that I’m sure will cause a problem with my dog sooner or later. A pedestrian bridge would be great because more people would walk to Chimney park instead of driving.

If they were proposing to cut a swath of trees for a new path through the park or a new set of playground equipment I would feel differently. This is one tree and the benefit will be worth it.

maxd
Guest
maxd

Typical Parks, as a means to mitigate the loss of the tree, they are proposing to repurpose it into a nature playground! What an awesome idea, one that everyone can feel good about. Except…instead of leaving it in Pier or Chimney Parks, they are trucking it across town to the wealthiest neighborhood in Portland! Nice.

http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Fighting-to-save-their-Sequoia-191930631.html

John Landolfe
Guest

Instead of burning money on a mediator, why doesn’t the City instead spend money on the architect and ask them to draft an alteration to the concept? Designs that incorporate the surrounding environment can have exceptional aesthetic results. Consider PSU’s Millar Library. I know we’re all eager for better bike infrastructure but if the tree is really over 80 years old and over 100 feet tall, we’d all be dead before a replanted tree reached that maturity.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Only in Portland……

nrdbomber
Guest
nrdbomber

…seems to me there’s a weird ravine they have to cross. They should just fill that big crack with a bunch of dirt and you could completely connect the two parks 😉

nrdbomber
Guest
nrdbomber

…by the way, you can “walk” the trail in this area on google maps.

just joe
Guest
just joe

but this is now a moot discussion. The tree has been cut down.

Hugh Johnson
Guest
Hugh Johnson

If this didn’t serve the interests of cyclists this would be the latest outrage on BikePortland…posters would be calling for somebody’s head. But it’s for us so it’s cool to cut down a ancient living thing.

Laura
Guest
Laura

“The road has to be big enough to handle trucks, which is part of the reason it couldn’t be drawn to go around the stand of trees.” http://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2013/02/22/pier-park-sequoia-comes-thunking-down-in-pieces-its-like-a-body

What? After reading the bikeportland article I was under the impression that this was a pedestrian bridge, but then found the above quote. please explain

Madya Starr
Guest

@DRUDGE_REPORT 100 year old Sequoia Tree cut down by Portland Parks for GREENway video

Madya Starr
Guest