Leave Woodmont Park as it is
Let's leave Woodmont Park the way it is. Oh, maybe a few small changes, like one or two steps up the muddy bank near the north entrance, and some gravel in the soggy spot across Atwater Lane from the kiosk, and a walkway over the trickle that comes in from the west. But aside from these, this beautiful piece of land is perfect — a joy to walk through, a terrific place for dogs to sniff, a reminder of the farm Donald Meyer lived on his entire life, the land he left to Lake Oswego with instructions to keep it natural. I've seen deer there. A neighbor photographed a bobcat in the park. Birders come through with binoculars. There used to be pheasants in that draw — they lived throughout the Forest Highlands neighborhood. But they're gone now. Their habitat was destroyed.
And that's the thing: the City wants to destroy the habitat provided by the trees in Woodmont Park. In late spring, the Hawthorns are covered in white and pink blossoms. The loud buzz of bees finding nectar and pollen is reassuring since bees are losing habitat nationwide and are on the decline, down from 6 million hives in 1950 to 2.4 million ten years ago. Then, in fall, the hawthorn's small, shiny red berries fatten birds for the winter. Approach a tree when the berries are thick, and dozens of birds will scatter.
Parks and Rec tells us the hawthorn is invasive and should be removed. Parks and Rec assures us that the replacement trees will feed bees and birds. But we need to ask, when will the replacement tree be old enough to produce blossoms and berries? Take out a full-grown hawthorn and plant a sapling! What will the birds, which have experienced a national decline of three billion since 1970 (that's three billion with a b), eat in the meantime?
Birds are declining nationwide because of herbicides, pesticides, roadkill and habitat loss. So, Parks and Rec says, "let's destroy this habitat that the birds need; they'll find food somewhere else." Or they'll die.
If Parks and Rec were really concerned about invasive species, they might want to consider saving the hawthorns in Woodmont Park, and using the money earmarked for cutting them down and chipping them up to get rid of English ivy. Now there is a real threat! Spreading three feet each year, ivy could conceivably get out of hand in our Douglas fir forests, disfigure and entangle one-quarter of the state, and decimate the timber industry. Not to mention the loss of ground-dwelling creatures that live in our forests. Hawthorns versus ivy. Gee, I think we should cut down the hawthorn!
Perhaps we need to see this in human terms. If someone said to us, "sorry, but we must get rid of all non-native foods you eat right now and replace them with foods native to Oregon," how long would we survive? So why kill the trees that feed bees and birds, regardless of whether the trees are native or not? Why take away the habitat for creatures who are in decline? Talk about cruelty. Talk about insensitivity. Talk about foolishness. Death is not progress. Perhaps the time has come to realize that destruction of nature in order to put in hard-scape is retrograde. Perhaps it's time to admit that felling trees and bulldozing meadows to build houses is lunacy.
Peter Wright is a Lake Oswego resident.
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