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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

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An ever-changing urban canopy

July 9, 2012

By David Nguyen

Today, The Oregonian highlighted Portland Parks & Recreation’s historic South Park Blocks.  The blocks provide a great downtown green space, and the historic elms that line the blocks have been enjoyed by Portlanders since they were planted in 1877. 

The now century-old elm trees provide a full canopy, which help create a relaxing atmosphere for downtown area residents and visitors.

Unfortunately, some of the trees are decaying with age - part of the natural life cycle - and Parks has plans to remove some of the hazardous trees this summer.  While it will bring changes to the canopy, new trees will be planted in their place to be enjoyed by the next century of Portlanders. 

Studies have shown that urban trees help clean the air, reduce noise, regulate temperature, and reduce waste water runoff.  They also boost property values.  A 2009 report estimates that Portland's trees contribute $27 million a year in benefits through carbon sequestration, storm water management, and other natural functions that save the city money.

Currently, the Bureau of Environmental Services' Treebate program is offering a utility credit to homeowners who plant news trees in their yard.

Portland Parks work with non-profit organizations like the Friends of Trees to help boost tree numbers in neighborhoods.  Their goal is to plant 21,000 new trees, part of a citywide goal of adding 83,000 total, by 2017.

Portland's South Park Blocks will be less dramatic as an urban forest grows

Brittany Schell in The Oregonian