Street trees cool the city and help reduce carbon dioxide levels; but here's another benefit they confer on us

RITA A. LEONARD - The Toyota Prius in the Brooklyn New Years incident was prevented by this Milwaukie Avenue street tree from endangering anyone on the sidewalk towards which it was headed. Street trees are an important part of Inner Southeast Portland. In addition to providing shade, nesting areas, and oxygen (as a byproduct of photosynthesis), they can also come in handy in unexpected ways.

On the first weekend of the New Year, a street tree minding its own business in front of 4616 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue proved to be an impediment to a Toyota Prius that left the road, heading for the sidewalk and the parking lot fence of the Cambridge Square Apartments, just north of the McLoughlin Boulevard overcrossing.

The abrupt stop wasn't helpful to the vehicle and its driver, but at least the pedestrian walkway and nearby parking lot were saved from potential damage. Investigating officers have not yet publicly revealed the cause of the mishap – although the damage to the car at its rear suggests that it might actually have been the victim of a rear-end impact, which propelled it off the road. At any rate, no major injury was reported.

But, to continue for a moment our appreciation of street trees and how they come to be there, the local nonprofit "Friends of Trees", founded in 1989, is now a nationally-recognized regional leader in improving the urban tree canopy. Friends of Trees inspires volunteers to improve the natural world around them by helping plant a variety of trees. Together, the organization and its volunteers have planted over 800,000 trees and native plants in western Oregon and Southwest Washington.

At any rate, no tree was seriously hurt this time, in performing the public service of stopping the wayward Prius before it could run down someone. You might even want to make a donation, in honor of this helpful but anonymous tree, online –

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