Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Urban Forestry

I just wanted to share with you all an article I read recently about Portland's urban forestry, in the South Park Blocks in particular. For those of you who don't know, the South Park Blocks are a. 8.76 acre, 12-block long stretch of trees with a playground, fountains, and historical statues, a space that's been there since 1848 when it was first platted on the then-outskirts of town. It has since been absorbed into the southern reaches of what's now Downtown Portland, and is adjacent to the Portland State campus. It's part of what makes Portland so nice, liveable, welcoming. Walk there any time of year and you'll feel the history of the place in the shade of the trees, the age of the buildings alongside it. The North Park Blocks, home to the City's first playground since 1908, are just as nice in their way, but at a piddling 3.11 acres and with smaller trees, so you get a nicer walk in the South.

Lovely spot at Salmon Street

So it seems the trees in the South Park Blocks are getting too old and tall. One of them fell recently, so they're going to go about cutting some of the older ones down and replanting some youngsters. Naturally, this has to be done. Nobody wants pedestrians getting hurt (any more than they already have), buildings getting damaged, etc. Makes me sad and glad at the same time. Sad for the loss of incredible trees that have seen so much change around them, glad for the planning and hard work that will go into maintaining and managing the trees that people here care about so much. That's my tax dollars at work, people, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Quoth the article:
 As old trees disappear, so will the soaring canopies that distinguish many Portland parks and neighborhoods. It will be a shocking change for a city that boasts stands of stately elms and towering firs. Ensuring a green canopy for Portland's future requires a more varied urban forest, with many sizes and species replacing the towering trees people have come to love.

Eleven of the oldest trees have been tagged for removal, and some have already been taken down. At over a century in age, these trees have had a good life and provided plenty of shade and enjoyment to the residents of Portland, so their time has come. Fair enough. If you're interested, though there are changes coming to the City's urban forestry planning and management, here's a link to the 2004 Urban Forestry Master Plan for the City of Portland. With over 10,000 acres of parks, Portland has a lot to do!

But reading the article brought to mind how much I love Portland's canopy, open spaces, and the overall impression of verdant life bursting from all corners that the place has about it, and I wanted to share just a couple photos from a recent walk I took with my wife. These are from in or around Laurelhurst Park, not too far from our home. These were taken at something like 8pm or later, which shows how a lovely summer afternoon can just smear itself into evening hours in Portland.

The breathtaking view isn't helping this cyclist catch his breath, is it?

One of the more charming features of Laurelhurst Park is these lamps they have along the pathways. My wife likes to imagine she's peering out of the back end of an antique wardrobe whenever she takes pictures of these. Take a look at this shot, and try to recapture the awe of reading the first book that truly captivated you as a child . . . imagine yourself discovering Narnia for just a moment.

Mr. Tumnus sends his regards.

I am so in love with my hometown. Beautiful moments like this one are encountered on a daily basis, if you bother to look around. I'm sure that's true of other places as well, but mine's special, and uniquely well suited to me.

 How can you NOT love this?

Thanks for reading, all. Hope I made you smile, maybe made you want to visit. Please leave a comment, tell me about your favorite places, your favorite parts of Portland, or your thoughts on Urban Forestry.

Much love!

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