Portland boasts one of the largest urban forests in the United States, aptly named Forest Park. The park not only provides recreation opportunities for Portland residents, but the trees in the park and throughout the city supply numerous benefits, such as supplying food and habitat for wildlife, purifying air, abating noise, supplying shade, and reducing runoff. Unfortunately, trees are often not considered a capital asset. Cities4Forests provides Portland with a means to highlight the value of trees with the goal of improving tree maintenance, increasing the number of trees in the city, and providing tree services equitably to all residents.
“Portland is proud to be a city where nature is celebrated and enjoyed. Trees play a vital role in our community, they give us clean air and water, shade and natural cooling, habitat for wildlife, reduced stormwater runoff, and aesthetic value. Imagine if trees got organized and sent us a monthly bill! It turns out, trees are priceless and make our community cleaner, greener, and more livable.”
Former Portland Parks Commissioner
Portland’s Urban Forestry team in the Department of Parks & Recreation manages and regulates Portland’s urban forest infrastructure, including the city’s urban forest of 218,000 street trees, 1.2 million park trees, and many trees on private property. This is guided by Portland’s Urban Forest Management Plan and implemented through efforts to promote community tree awareness and stewardship, develop policies and programs, monitor and assess the urban forest, issue permits for planting, pruning, and removal of public and some private trees, and respond to tree emergencies.
The City of Portland relies on the Bull Run Watershed as its primary drinking water supply, which serves more than 950,000 residents in the Portland metropolitan region. The protected Bull Run Watershed is located 26 miles from downtown Portland in the Sandy River basin on the Mount Hood National Forest.
The largely forested watershed has been managed under increasing levels of protection since it was established as a Forest Reserve in 1892. In 2001 federal law extended the protection boundary, and both the watershed and the protected buffer lands are known as the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit (BRWMU). All land management activities in this area are limited to only those necessary to protect water quality and operate the water supply and hydroelectric power facilities.
The majority of lands within the BRWMU are under federal ownership (96%), and the City of Portland owns the remaining 4%. The BRWMU is carefully managed to sustain and supply clean drinking water to a quarter of Oregon’s population.