Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nominations Open for 2010 Oregon Urban and Community Forestry Awards

Oregon Community Trees (OCT) is pleased to announce the 17th annual Urban and Community Forestry Awards for 2010. Join OCT, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the USDA Forest Service in recognizing the accomplishments of individuals, groups and businesses that have been leaders in the efforts to enhance and maintain Oregon’s community forests (trees and related vegetation growing within a city’s urban growth boundary).

OCT is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting healthy community forests and citizen awareness of urban and community forestry issues statewide. This is your chance to see the individuals or groups in your community that have been instrumental in local tree issues during 2009 are recognized for their efforts. All nominations must be submitted to Oregon Community Trees @ P.O. Box 13074, Salem, OR 97309-1074 to be received no later than March 31, 2010. A nomination application is included with this letter.

Award recipients will be announced during Oregon Urban Forestry Conference, being held at the Oregon Garden, on June 3, 2010. For further information on the Oregon Urban Forestry Awards Program, please contact Mark Snyder, OCT Awards Committee chair, at (541) 682-4819, or by e-mail at

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Call for Presentations - Oregon Urban & Community Forestry Conference
June 2-3, 2010 - - Deadline for submissions - Jan 22, 2010.

The Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Community Trees, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, will hold the 2010 Oregon Urban and Community Forestry Conference on June 2-3, 2010. Wednesday June 2nd will be an outdoor field day at the J. Frank Schmidt & Son Nursery in Boring, and Thursday June 3rd will be an indoor educational session at the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton. The conference planning committee invites potential speakers to submit a presentation proposal for inclusion in the conference program. The theme of this year’s Annual Conference is “From Seed to City: The Journey of An Urban Tree“, focusing on nursery production, species selection, and planting of landscape trees in cities. This annual conference usually attracts around 75-125 urban forestry professionals and advocates.

Download the submission form at

Friday, December 18, 2009

Trees & Parking Lots

Parking lots have significant environmental impacts that can be partially mitigated by planting trees. Growing trees in parking lots presents some challenges that can be addressed by giving them enough space. Structural soils can give tree roots the space they need while supporting parking loads and maximizing the number of parking spaces.

Environmental Impacts of Parking Lots
On a naturally vegetated landscape west of the Cascades, rainfall is intercepted by trees or soaks into the ground where much of it is taken up by plant roots. Studies by Chris May at University of Washington show that there is virtually no runoff from a forested landscape.

When it rains on asphalt or concrete, water runs off rather than soaking into the ground. This runoff carries pollutants from brake linings, tires, and automobile fluids, as well as other pollutants from the urban landscape. Nat Scholz at NOAA Fisheries has shown that copper from brake linings is very toxic to our native salmonids. Approximately 20% of impervious area in urban watersheds comes from parking lots.

Storm drains from parking lots are generally connected to a storm sewer system. In many areas, storm sewers dump into the nearest stream. Besides carrying pollutants to these streams, the runoff causes streams to rise quickly during storm events, eroding banks and stirring up sediments and legacy pollutants from the stream bed.

In many larger cities, including Portland, storm sewers connect to the sanitary sewers and go to a wastewater treatment plants. During storms, the combination of sewage and runoff is greater than the capacity of the system and a “combined sewer overflow” occurs, dumping into the nearest river.

Parking lots also contribute to the heat island effect. On a hot summer day, the temperature of an asphalt parking lot can be 50F warmer than the surrounding area. The heat gain from a lighter colored concrete parking lot is less severe.

Overcoming Difficulties of Growing Trees in Parking Lots
Many trees are not adapted to the high temperatures that occur in asphalt parking lots. Soil compaction that typically happens with any paving project is not conducive to tree growth. Trees also need protection from cars, trucks, shopping carts and other equipment that might collide with a tree in a parking lot.

Numerous studies correlate tree growth with the volume of soil available to them. One way of accommodating tree growth in parking lots is to provide large tree wells. Where land costs are prohibitive, “structural soils” can provide a healthy growing medium that can support parking loads. Trees thrive in structural soils 3’-4’ deep and 10’ or more wide.

Cornell University has been a pioneer in structural soils, with more than a decade of research documenting their performance. Structural soils contain load supporting crushed rock of sufficient size to provide voids for soil, air and water. Screened organic soil is mixed with the crushed rock for the roots to grow in. A soil binder is mixed with the coil and rock to keep the soil in place.

Cornell’s CU structural soil is a patented mix that is licensed to vendors across the country and comes with quality control assurances. Other recipes have been developed across the country using local materials. The University of California at Davis has developed a structural soil using locally available lava rock. Lava rock contains voids for air and water and is not as strong as other rock, so the Davis mixture uses rock of smaller size than other structural soils.

The City of Olympia Washington constructed a successful demonstration project in 2001 using structural soils in a linear tree well 100’ long x 10’ wide x 3’ deep, covered with concrete sidewalks. Three trees reside in 4’ x 4’ cutouts in the sidewalk. Across the street from this demonstration, 4 trees were planted in compacted native soils as a control for the experiment. The results as shown in this Google Earth image 8 years later are impressive.

Trees in parking lots need protection from collisions. Wheel stops are the most typical protection methods. Placement of wheel stops should consider whether a long-bed pickup truck might back into that parking space.

The 5000 Acres Initiative
Tualatin Riverkeepers is working with various partners to initiate a program to plant trees in parking lots for stormwater mitigation. The Tualatin River basin has more than 5000 acres in parking lots that cause runoff that erodes and pollutes streams. One of the goals of this project is to retrofit parking lots without losing parking capacity. Structural soils and linear tree wells designed by Maria Cahill of Green Girl Land Development Solutions a primary feature of the first two proposed project sites. Stormwater monitoring for the first year at these two sites is being contributed by Clean Water Services. Matt Stine of Ash Creek Forest Management is the consulting arborist for this program.

One of the proposed sites is at the Sunset Swim Center, owned by Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District (THPRD). THPRD had already planned to replace a ½ acre asphalt parking lot with pervious concrete. Tualatin Riverkeepers was interested in testing the stormwater interception capabilities of native conifers. High temperatures in asphalt parking lots are not conducive to the survival of native conifers, so this site with a cooler concrete parking lot is ideal for this trial.

The other proposed site is at the Mission of Atonement, a congregation of Lutherans and Roman Catholics interested in improving their environmental stewardship. Their current parking lot of gravel and asphalt produces significant runoff that pools offsite on a THPRD site. Linear tree wells with structural soils appear to be an ideal solution for runoff reduction on this site.

Tualatin Riverkeepers is looking for additional local partners for this project. We need to raise an additional $90,000 for the first year of the project and grant applications are pending for most of that. There are research opportunities for graduate students or others wishing to study rainfall interception of trees or performance of linear tree wells and structural soils. Potential partners for funding, in-kind donations, research or installation of trees on a parking lot are encouraged to contact Brian Wegener, Watershed Watch Coordinator of Tualatin Riverkeepers at 503-620-7507 or

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Save the Date - Oregon Urban Forestry Conference

Block out June 2 & 3, 2010 on your calendar for our Urban Forestry Conference. The theme this year is Seed to City: The Journey of an Urban Tree. We are focusing on the cultivation, planting and care of urban trees. Day one features a tour of the J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. Nursery and Arboretum. Day two features presentations by the experts at the Oregon Garden Resort.

We have made this two-day conference quite affordable and expect a large turnout. CEUs will be available for professionals. Registration begins March 1.

Details as they become available will be on our website at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Partners in Community Forestry Presentations Now Online
PowerPoints and handouts from the recent national conference held in Portland are now available online from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Online Urban Forestry Course

Oregon State University, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the USDA Forest Service, is offering an online college course in urban forestry. The course is cross listed as FOR 350 & HORT 350, and will be offered Winter Quarter, 2010 (January through March). Open registration begins on December 7th, 2009.

To learn more, visit and search out FOR 350 or HORT 350.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ascending the Giants
at the
NW Film and Video Festival

Ascending the Giants will be playing here in Portland on Saturday, November 7 and again on Thursday November 12, starting at 7:00 PM.

Admission: $5.00

Whitsell Auditorium
1219 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205

Other Screenings

Colorado Environmental Film Festival

Award: Best Short Documentary by a Pacific Northwest Filmmaker
November 5-7, 2009
Golden, Colorado

Boulder Adventure Film Festival
November 12-14, 2009
Boulder, Colorado

Red Rock Film Festival
November 12-15, 2009
Springdale, Utah

Wild and Scenic Film Festival
January 15-17, 2010
Nevada City, California

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free Nature Education Workshop for Teachers

Oregon Community Trees President Rick Zenn will lead a free three-session workshop for teachers to learn how to make the most of nature field trips. Rick is a Senior Fellow at the World Forestry Center.

The dates of the workshop are Oct 31, Nov 7 and Nov 13, 2009. Learning Outside the Classroom: Leadership for Successful Fieldtrips is an in-depth 3 day workshop where K-5 educators will discover the power of field trips. This unique 3-session, community-based course will combine the best environmental education practices and learning strategies using activities from Project Learning Tree with the power of planning, managing, and leading an effective, curriculum-driven field trip program for students. Day-long sessions will be held-on site in the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum in Portland. It is expected that registered participants will attend all 3 sessions as they are designed and constructed to build in content and community. OSU Graduate Credit and Substitute Reimbursement is available for this workshop.

The program is sponsored by the Oregon State University College of Forestry's Oregon Natural Resource Education Program.

CLICK HERE or more information and to register for this workshop.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Redmond Revival

The re-location of US 97 away from the still beating heart of “downtown” Redmond, Oregon has created exciting new opportunities for community parks and tree planting.

Redmond’s “shovel ready” city arborist Rick Torassa led a fascinating walking tour of new tree planting projects for the directors of Oregon Community Trees (OCT) on a clear, cold Friday morning, September 7.

The new site of the Centennial Park, adjacent to the attractive city hall building on Deschutes Avenue is sure to provide a welcoming, shaded and way cool (with new kid-friendly fountains) gathering spot for community events, lunch breaks, and lucky tourists who are sure to discover this “hidden” gem in Central Oregon.

Placement and maintenance of large new street trees in the central business district created engineering and planting challenges familiar to hard rock miners and high desert gardeners.

With just 12 inches of rain, 300 days of sunshine, and one of the fastest growing populations in the state, this community is clearly going in a new direction while trying hard to do the right thing. Many fingers are crossed that the new trees, sidewalks, curbs, planters, local businesses, and growing number of residents and visitors continue to work together in the future.

Tree loving Redmond City Commissioner Shirlee Evans and the city’s enlightened Public Works Director Chris Doty, joined Torassa to exchange information with the OCT group in the city council chambers. The meeting was also attended by directors Art Anderson (Brooks), Ramona Arechica (Corvallis), John Bellon (Klamath Falls), Brian French (Milwaukee), Greg Giesy (Eugene), Jim Johnson (OSU), Laura Lehman (Sisters), Laura Lesher (Salem), David Odom (Portland), Mark Synder (Eugene), Brian Wegener (Tigard), and Oregon Department of Forestry’s Katie Lompa (Prineville) and Paul Ries (Salem).

The next OCT meeting will be held at Oregon State University on Thursday, December 3.

-- Rick Zenn, President, Oregon Community Trees

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tree Planting Opportunities for Volunteers

SOLV Clean & Green
Saturday October 10 - 9am - 1pm
Various Sites in Washington and Multnomah Counties

Tualatin Riverkeepers
Saturday, October 17th -9am - noon
Saturday, November 7th - 9am - noon

Get your hands dirty out in Scholls this fall planting some native plants with Tualatin Riverkeepers. TRK has leveraged funds to restore the beautiful 72-acre Metro’s Greenspace property on Munger Lane. We are on our way to completing phase I of this restoration of natural wetland and oak savanna habitat.

Contact Vicki at 503-620-7507 or for more information.

Friends of Trees - Portland and vicinity
Several opportunities in October and November

Friday, September 11, 2009


The Oregonian reported that the Arbor Day Foundation is offering free Arizona Cyprus trees via mail. They chose this species because of its drought tolerance. You can read the article online.

I am not sure that this exotic species is the best choice for your Oregon landscape. To help choose appropriate plants for the Willamette Valley, try out the Native Plant finder offered by Clean Water Services.

Until September 30, 2009 the City of Tigard is offering free street trees to its residents.

On October 3 you can buy a wide variety of beautiful native landscape plants for a reasonable price at Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. Their website has a list of plants that will be available.

Tualatin Riverkeepers is looking for parking lots in Washington County to plant trees for stormwater management. If you would like to participate contact Brian Wegener

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Green Workshops at Chemeketa Community College

SPROut is offering 2 all-day workshops this fall:

Ecological Design Principles for Water Treatment on Sept 26

Greenroofs and Living Walls on Oct 3

To register, go to the Natural Resources site at Chemeketa

The registration info is at the very bottom of the page.

Brief descriptions of the workshops are included in this email, but you can also visit the SPROut website at

Ecological Design Principles for Water Treatment

Ecological design principles have been the basis for many commercially-available, plant-based engineered systems for water treatment such as Living Machines, Eco-Machines, and Lake Restorers. Applications of these principles have been rapidly evolving into new technologies for treatment of rainbarrels, stormwater, greywater, irrigation run-off, and agricultural wastewaters. This course will provide foundations of ecological design, from which you can begin to develop your own systems. The day will begin with a 2-hour lecture on ecological design concepts and various applications for plant-based water treatment. A tour of SPROut’s Ecoreactor will allow participants to examine up-close a model of a plant-based water treatment system in tanks. Participants will then collectively build a table-top version of a tank system. The day will conclude with a tour of the Oregon Garden's treatment wetlands and innovative floating wetlands that integrate ecological water treatment with nursery crop production.

Greenroofs and Living Walls

The day will begin with a 2-hour lecture on green roofs and living walls, covering the basics of roof and wall types, design, layered components, functions, and benefits. Green roofs and living walls will be explored in the context of horticultural applications that provide ecosystem services to the built environment. For the remainder of the morning, the class will tour several projects at The Oregon Garden that apply ecological horticulture to the sustainable landscape, including raingarden, green roof, floating wetland, tunnel green roof, living wall, biofilter strips for parking lots, and constructed wetland bog filters. The afternoon will be split between 2 installations. First, the class will layer and plant a green roof on a tool shed (using multiple planting techniques), where the waterproof membrane, edge boards, and gutters have already been installed. Second, the class will install growing media and plants into modular units of a custom living wall, while exploring the structural challenges that accompany the vertical dimension.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A tree never hit a car.... except in self-defense.
--- Unknown source

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oregon's Fabulous Trees Photo Gallery

The Oregonian has a beautiful photo gallery of Oregon's Fabulous Trees. You can view it at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trees - An Investment with Great Returns

Research by the US Forest Service done right here in the Pacific Northwest shows that planting and maintaining trees produces a 270% return rate. That means for every $1 cities invest, $2.70 worth of services is returned. That makes trees a better investment than stocks, bonds, CDs, money-market accounts, and even most real estate.

Given the economic turmoil the country is experiencing this year, it is more than appropriate to help people connect with the idea that urban forestry is a worthwhile investment. ISA Certified Arborist Elwood Newhouse has done this with a new billboard - check it out. Nice job Elwood.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fight The Heat - Plant A Tree

Last week Abby Haight reported in the Oregonian newspaper that trees provide "oases of cool" in our urban landscape. Thought we need them in a heat wave, a heat wave is probably the worst time to plant a tree. Cooler weather, rainfall, and dormancy are contributing factors in tree survival.

This fall and winter you can get involved in providing some cooling relief for future heat waves by planting a tree in your yard with the help of Friends of Trees. Friends of Trees will advise you on an appropriate tree for your site, sell you the tree for $25 - $75, and get you involved with their volunteer work crew to plant your trees and others. You can sign up online at Friends of Trees.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trees for Stormwater Management

There are numerous environmental and storm water benefits to trees in urban settings. These include the capture of carbon dioxide by trees, shading, and habitat for wildlife. Urban forests can also act as natural storm water management areas by filtering particulate matter (pollutants, some nutrients, and sediment), by absorption of water and by facilitating evapotranspiration to reduce runoff. Evergreen trees generally have greater stormwater benefits than deciduous trees in our climate where the majority of rainfall is in the winter. Trees also reduces noise levels, provides recreational benefits, and increases property values.

Trees in urban settings are known to have numerous environmental benefits, including pollutant removal. Trees can absorb water, pollutant gases, airborne particulates, sediment, nitrogen, phosphorous, and pesticides.

There are numerous economic benefits to urban forests, including proven increases in property values. In addition, by preserving trees and forests, clearing and grading as well as erosion and sediment costs may be saved during construction. Maintenance costs are also minimized by keeping areas as natural as possible.