by: Tim Hohl, Workers from Newberg-based Northwest Arbor Culture Inc. remove trees east of the
Troutdale Airport.

TROUTDALE - The Port of Portland on Thursday began cutting hundreds of cottonwood trees that have grown into the Troutdale Airport flight path.

Up to 1,000 cottonwood trees could be removed, said Port of Portland spokeswoman Kama Simons. The work is estimated to take about a week, followed by a couple of more weeks to clear the area.

Port officials estimate somewhere between 250 and 300 cottonwood trees are obstructing the flight path at the airport, which has been used in the past as a critical base for air tankers battling forest fires.

'Many hundreds more' are within an estimated 10 feet of penetrating the airspace.

Although helicopters and lighter planes can still access the area, the U.S. Forest Service closed its base at the airport last month because larger, heavier air tankers need more room to take off and land.

Although no final decisions have been made, preliminary plans call for the planting of smaller trees, such as willows or dogwoods, or native shrubs and plants in the area.

Port officials hope to develop a revegetation plan that will be suitable to all parties before submitting a Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area review application to the county, Simons said.

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