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Forest Park is our treasure

by: David Plechl, Runners take to the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, which, OK, isn’t the superlative everyone might claim it is in terms of size and status. Supporters say, “Never mind,” it — and other parks in the system — are jewels in the city crown.

In Portland, we have the luxury of bickering over whether Forest Park is the largest forested urban natural area park in the country - but frankly, who cares?

We do know this: Forest Park is an incredible treasure for the Portland metro region (Forest Park fallacy, July 18). Its southern reach is just minutes from downtown Portland (which is not the largest city in the United States, nor even in the Northwest, but still a great place to call home).

The park offers a wide range of recreational opportunities as well as respite from the hustle and bustle of urban living. It is wildlife habitat; more than 100 species of birds and 60 species of mammals have been sighted in the park as temporary or permanent residents. And don't forget the banana slugs and giant Pacific salamanders.

The 30-mile Wildwood Trail and the Lower Macleay Trail are National Recreation Trails, a status bestowed upon them by a program of the National Park Service. And it is no mistake that houses around the park's borders carry a hefty price tag.

Portland has bragging rights. Forest Park is an incredible resource and legacy for our city. Now it's up to us to care for it.

P.S. The author of the study cited by the Tribune acknowledges that he used old information for Forest Park. The park has grown by approximately 800 acres since then, thanks to the last Metro Greenspaces ballot measure and the generosity and hard work of Friends of Forest Park members.

Gail Snyder

Friends of Forest Park executive director

Northwest Portland

Work for parks is far from finished

We read with interest the story debunking the myth that Forest Park is the largest urban park in the nation (Forest Park fallacy, July 18).

This misnomer contributes to a degree of smug complacency and neglect for Portland's park and green-space system. While the system is well-endowed by investments from past generations, the truth is it falls short in some important measures, especially in terms of access, not mentioned in the article.

Moreover, public investment in Portland's parks and green spaces is not keeping pace with the needs and values of a changing and growing population.

The Coalition for a Livable Future's forthcoming Regional Equity Atlas found that only 49 percent of Portland's population (2000 U.S. Census) is within a quarter-mile walk of a public green space, below the value for the entire Portland-Vancouver, Wash., metropolitan region.

By this measure, Portland has worse access than Hillsboro, Sherwood and even Gresham. Only 60 percent of Portlanders are within a quarter-mile of a natural area (public or private), the lowest percentage of any city in Clackamas, Multnomah or Washington counties.

Fortunately, Portlanders have the opportunity to renew support for the natural area protection that gave us a world-class park system, including gems like Forest Park. Portland voters can pass the Natural Areas, Parks and Streams bond measure on the November ballot. The measure would raise $227.4 million to purchase and protect natural areas for clean water, wildlife and people at a cost of less than $3 per month for the average homeowner.

The measure, which includes $15 million in local share for the city of Portland, also would help buy parkland and trails where they're most needed. For information on the measure, see www.savenaturalareas.org.

Jim Labbe

Audubon Society of Portland urban conservationist

Northwest Portland

Jill Fuglister

Coalition for a Livable Future executive director

Southwest Portland

Tanner Springs serves vital purpose

I think Fred Kent, whom you quoted as wanting to take out Tanner Springs Park and 'put in a park people will use' needs to get out of urban space planning and go work for Disneyland (Visit, but don't play, July 14).

Urban parks are not all about crowding adults, children and dogs into an open space. There actually are people who enjoy a natural, uncrowded area in the city.

My wife and I walk through Tanner Springs Park almost every day. We really appreciate all the effort that the planners put into bringing Tanner Creek back to life.

We love the large sculpture made from old rails and blue fused glass made by Portland's Bullseye Glass and hand-painted in Germany. We also enjoy Jamison Square Park, which fills the criteria endorsed by Kent.

We should praise the diversity of our park system and not try to clone all parks on Kent's model.

David Sessions

Northwest Portland

Air hazards can't be engineered away

Excellent article on the Hillsboro airport issues (Hillsboro residents target airport safety, July 21). It was detailed, fair and objective, which is sometimes lacking in this day and age.

Two significant things I find interesting about this controversy are:

• I am sure that the airport was there before its critics moved in. It is amazing that people will move in near an airport and then whine about livability, safety, noise, etc. I do not think that anybody forced them to live there, so it is about choices and consequences.

• It also is interesting to me that after the recent accident during the air show no one in the media seemed to remember a significant date and event in Portland history, Dec. 28, 1978.

That was when United Airlines Flight 173 (a DC-8 with 131 passengers and eight crew members) landed at 6:15 p.m. on the only two unoccupied residences in a densely populated area six nautical miles southeast of the (Portland) airport, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report.

Two of the crew members and eight passengers on the aircraft were killed, but no one on the ground was injured or killed! I remember it because I was a reserve deputy sheriff for the Multnomah County sheriff's office at the time and responded to the accident scene.

There was a wreckage path 1,554 feet long and 130 feet wide. But, gee whiz, I don't remember anybody forming activist committees, or putting out lawn signs to close down Portland International Airport.

Simply put: Accidents happen. No amount of master planning or whining will change that. However, I will be following your future stories on the Hillsboro situation with interest.

Boyd C. Yaden

Clackamas