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Its all about trees in new plan

Lake Oswegans can now weigh in on a plan for trees at the first of three open houses on a new Urban and Community Forestry Plan, set for Wednesday.

The meeting will take feedback on a city plan to maintain, protect and improve trees on public property. The plan will also ask local residents what incentives might encourage tree preservation on private land.

The plan aims to address what some consider gaps in the tree code.

According to Deb Wechselblatt, community forestry coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego, the tree code works to preserve individual trees but doesn't lay the framework for what treed resources are most valuable in the community overall.

'The tree code works at individual trees on a case-by-case basis. The plan looks at trees as a whole,' she said.

Wechselblatt, the city's lead on the project, was brought onto the city staff in October through an AmeriCorps grant designed to tackle the forestry plan and other projects.

Ultimately, the plan may lead to a citywide inventory of trees, which differs from the natural resource inventory currently under way, mapping streams and tree groves. A tree inventory, by contrast, would map tree species and distribution throughout Lake Oswego, as well as tree size and other parameters, Wechselblatt said.

For now, officials are concentrating on developing a standard way of dealing with trees, a policy that can serve as an umbrella over the tree code and other policies, Wechselblatt said.

The open houses are considered 'a first step to getting at more of a long-term program,' she said.

What takes hold will take a non-regulatory stance on tree preservation through the Urban and Community Forestry Plan.

City officials are hopeful public feedback will identify incentives, such as free trees, for people who preserve resources on private property.

Wechselblatt said the program first aims to layout goals for local trees.

Planners are hopeful those with an interest in the plan will turn out at next week's meeting. Wechselblatt named civic groups, neighborhood associations and landscape businesses as key stakeholders and encouraged anyone affected by or interested in the development of the plan to attend.

City officials plan to complete the plan in August, after two additional public sessions, set for June and July.

Open house set

An open house will be held Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to take feedback on a proposed Urban and Community Forestry Plan for Lake Oswego. The plan includes a voluntary program to offer incentives to property owners that preserve trees and also sets strategy for maintaining trees in public areas. The meeting takes place at Lake Oswego City Hall, 380 A Ave.