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Damaged Woodstock Blvd tree worries neighbors

SPLIT BUT SAFE?


by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The owner of this home - which apparently now is up for sale - is responsible for removing the damaged tree, officials say.What remains of the elm tree, on the corner of S.E. 34th Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard, in front of Reed College – a tree that split, part of it crashing down in the wee hours of October 1 – still stands.

Neighbors asked THE BEE to check to see why such a “top heavy” tree was left standing after the storm in which it split, instead of the tree simply being cut down.

Portland Parks & Recreation Public Information Officer Mark Ross put the question for us to PP&R Urban Forestry (UF) experts.

In general terms, Ross told us, when a tree fails in the “City Right of Way (RoW)”, and Urban Forestry staff are contacted, they remove the parts in the road and any unstable, imminently hazardous parts of the remaining tree that could imperil the street – or all of the tree if necessary.

“If part of a failed tree remains, it is likely because what remained was not an imminent hazard [to the Right of Way],” Ross continued. “Outside of our emergency response to clear the City Right of Way, the adjacent property owner is responsible for all street tree maintenance and removal, per City Code 20.40.”

About this specific tree, Ross said the Urban Forestry crew had removed the downed tree material, and performed a weight reduction in order to stabilize the tree – until the adjacent property owner could make arrangements to remove the remaining stem and branches.

“The Bureau’s tree inspector has made attempts to contact the adjacent property owner, who happens to live out of state, and so far he hasn’t been able to reach him.” THE BEE observes that the home is apparently now for sale.

The tree is currently stable, Ross commented, but it will need to be removed.

“Due to the proximity of overhead conductors [power lines] and traffic control requirements, Urban Forestry feels is best to leave it up to a [private commercial arborist] to complete the removal.”

We asked if Urban Forestry removes street trees due to disease; Ross replied that if the city crew believed it to have been infected with Dutch Elm Disease, they would have removed it.

“Again, despite the large wound the tree sustained in the storm, we all felt comfortable leaving it in the short term – and the plan is for it to be removed [by the homeowner],” Ross added.