Project catches trail users off guard
THPRD seeks input for pruning and planting along Fanno Creek Trail
Communication about a vegetation-maintenance project on the newly completed Fanno Creek Regional Trail has some nature lovers seeing orange.
As part of its 2006 Trails Plan to maintain a clearance of 2 feet on trail shoulders and a 10-foot overhead canopy, the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District crews have marked with orange paint about 44 trees that are 'under consideration' for pruning and /or removal.
However, some residents who attended the park district's Monday night board meeting expressed concern that the marked trees on the trail stretch from Vista Brook Park to Southwest 92nd Avenue were slated for immediate removal, and they were not properly informed of the project.
'We feel trees that need to be removed for safety reasons need to be removed,' said Maria Wolfe, a resident of Oleson Road. 'Other than that, it's a classical case of using tax dollars to fix something that (already) works. We ask to use that money in a wiser manner.'
Jeffry Gottfried, a resident who has lived in the area for 25 years, was more blunt in his assessment of the district's overall trail management.
'What they're doing (is) cutting down trees,' he said. 'They're not managing the land, but just making it neat … If they're worried about safety, then cut all the ivy. Non-native plants just sit there. It's an eyesore and a source of frustration with me.'
Bruce Barbarasch, the district's superintendent of natural resources and trails management, explained the focus, rather, was to eliminate 'encroaching vegetation where dead or hazardous trees are mixed in and in an advanced state of decline.'
About 14 trees of a diameter of 2 inches or more are targeted for immediate pruning, he said. The purpose of the 10-foot overhead canopy is to keep the trail - which sees up to 10,000 visitors each summer - clear and usable during 'rain events' that cause vegetation to sag over the trail and reduce the usable pathway.
In a letter to 'trail users' dated Jan. 5, Barbarasch admitted the scope of the project was not properly communicated to the public.
'During the process of identifying vegetation to be considered for pruning or removal, patrons expressed concerns about a loss of tree cover,' he wrote. 'Unfortunately, no notice had been provided to the public in advance of the project, which was a regrettable oversight. THPRD's plan all along was to solicit public feedback, but not until a detailed internal review by district managers was complete.'
To fully incorporate feedback from trail users as well as accommodate a pending Tualatin Valley Water District water line project between Southwest 90th and 92nd avenues, the pruning project is temporarily on hold.
'We're looking at three months, possibly longer,' Barbarasch said. 'We want to make sure all those who want to participate (can) and not just rubber stamp this.'
In addition to pruning and removal of dead trees, park district staff is also proposing to plant new trees at an 'appropriate distance' from the trail so that 'over time a taller and more mature, healthy canopy will grow in' to provide 'shade, character and wildlife habitat,' the letter read.
Board member Larry Pelatt said the plan is simply part of the district's established standards for trail and vegetation maintenance.
'We have standards to maintain,' he said. 'We need to stick with (them) and get moving on this.'