Opinion: Oregon City can't afford to lose magnificent trees
If we take time to think about it, a community's "green infrastructure" represents a very important capital asset, right along with sewer, utility and transportation ("gray infrastructure").
Gray elements are comprised of buildings, roads, utilities — all necessary for a community to properly function. These elements are also impervious, forcing stormwater to run off roofs, parking lots and streets into stormwater sewer systems. Wastewater also picks up surface pollutants that must be removed before the water enters our rivers and lakes. In contrast, green elements are composed of trees, wetlands, shrubs, grass and other vegetation. They interact with other natural systems of/like air, water and soil. Green elements are also porous, allowing stormwater to soak into soil, which naturally filters pollutants before entering rivers.
The economic benefits of a healthy urban and community forest are often discounted or ignored in development decisions. These "ecosystem services" are extremely valuable and need to be considered in any evaluation of benefits. Take a moment to think about the benefits of trees as "heat sinks" cooling our atmosphere.
Now let us turn our attention to our city's tree canopy, and more specifically in the Park Place Neighborhood. We have a small forest within this neighborhood park, which is now in danger of being permanently damaged by the possible development of a single home. The trees within this park have been recently designated as heritage trees. During my research of these trees, and with an arborist report verifying my suspicion, these magnificent old-growth trees will be destroyed by construction vehicles, and a future road to access this one home. This is the neighborhood's only park, and features a children's playground, off-leash dog area and walking trails.
I challenge the city of Oregon City to find a solution that can save the trees, thus saving the entire park.
Didi Dahlsrud is a resident of Oregon City.
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