Oregon City resident honored as statewide Heritage Tree Hero
Oregon City resident Didi Dahlsrud has won the statewide Heritage Tree Hero of the Year Award, recognizing her dedication to preserving trees of historical significance.
Dahlsrud's commitment to saving, protecting and designating heritage trees in Oregon City came to the attention of state officials through nominations from the city's Natural Resource Committee and former Mayor Doug Neeley.
"When I heard about the award, I immediately knew Didi deserved it," said Dr. Nancy Broshot, NRC chair. "Change would never have happened without Didi's continual pushing."
Dahlsrud, a former NRC member, continually told the group that one of the main issues with getting new listings of heritage trees in Oregon City was the previous arborist-report requirement, which was cost-prohibitive for most people.
NRC members assigned Dahlsrud and Broshot to rewrite the heritage tree code. They looked at other city code and rewrote the OC code to reflect what the committee wanted. They credited then-City Planner Pete Walter (he has since moved on) with rewriting their words to fit actual city code language.
Dahlsrud said she was very humbled to receive the statewide award.
"Our city can use a little sunshine, and I think it will help bring more attention to our canopy, significant trees and our local Heritage Tree Program," she said.
Before the city modified the code in 2018, there were only four heritage trees and one heritage stand in Oregon City. Recently the city has approved six more individual heritage trees and an additional heritage tree stand with approximately 20 trees for protections, every one of them nominated by Dahlstrud.
Oregon City's heritage tree program requires a current landowner consent to sign a protective covenant for the tree that includes a deed restriction for any future landowners. If the city ever permits a heritage tree to be removed due to determining it's in poor health or hazardous, any future landowners will be required to mitigate for the loss of the tree through replanting or paying fines.
The Oregon Heritage Tree Program, the first state-sponsored heritage tree program in the nation when established in 1995, recently created the statewide Heritage Tree Hero of the Year award to recognize individuals and groups that view history from the perspective of the trees. The program seeks to educate Oregonians about the history by promote appreciation of significant trees as "arboreal historians."
"She is truly the heritage tree champion of Oregon City," Broshot said. "She not only finds the trees, but measures them and digs up any historical information that is available. And I know she is not done submitting trees to be adding."
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