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Renaissance Homes plans to remove estimated 150-year-old tree by early October.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Residents in Multnomah Village flood a corner along Capitol Highway during Multnomah Days to protest the planned removal of a 150-year-old mother tree at a development site nearby.Ongoing rallies and petitions won't be enough to save an estimated 150-year-old gargantuan Douglas fir in Multnomah Village.

Development company Renaissance Homes plans to demolish a single-family house and remove several trees on the site of a property it owns on Southwest 26th Avenue, slated for new housing. One of the trees has drawn a groundswell of attention and outcry over its removal.

Residents and neighbors of the development site gathered nearly 1,000 signatures in an effort to convince the developer not to cut down a towering "mother tree" among a swath of mature Doug fir trees on site.

"We've reached out to Renaissance Homes multiple times to collaborate and find a win-win solution," Angie Tanyi, a Multnomah Village resident and business owner, stated in a media announcement from a group of Southwest Portland residents. "We're simply asking for them to come to the table and work together to preserve The Mother Tree! This is our home, where we live, long after they build and leave."

Renaissance Homes purchased two of five lots on Southwest 26th and 27th Avenues. It plans to replace current homes with two new, single-family homes.

Those who rallied to save the tree pointed to trees' role in helping to combat climate change, provide shade in an increasingly hot state, house wildlife and support biodiversity and "nurture and support younger trees."

Activists say the grove of towering trees within an urban landscape, like the one in Multnomah, is increasingly rare. They point to scientific estimates that one Doug fir can offset almost 14 tons of carbon in its first 100 years.

"Climate change is here, and large trees, like Multnomah Village's Mother Tree, are the real superheroes in fighting climate change, cooling our homes as much as 10 degrees," Blaine Little of the Tree Emergency Response Team, stated in a rallying announcement for the tree. "The large trees we cut down today will determine the temperatures of our neighborhoods, sidewalks and streets in the years ahead."

Despite the pleas to Renaissance, the home building company said the tree would be removed by early October. A representative for the company said the trees on each site were evaluated by an arborist.

"Prior to purchasing, Renaissance evaluates each property  for building issues," said Nancy Haskin, director of sales and marketing for Renaissance. "Trees were the obvious challenge. Renaissance came up with several options for each lot to maximize the number of trees being retained and were able to retain three large, healthy Douglas fir trees onsite. In determining what trees could not be saved, Renaissance consulted a TRAQ certified arborist in effort to verify root loss, connecting root systems, canopies and wind throw to help determine which trees could not be retained. As part of the city of Portland approval, the city required Renaissance to pay $124,200 to the tree fund. We are hopeful that some if not all of the monies we paid to the city of Portland can be used in Multnomah Village."

Haskin said company representatives met with the Multnomah Neighborhood Association and neighbors to discuss construction plans and answer questions, while exploring possible alternative options.

"Given the housing shortage in the city of Portland, we believe we are helping communities by building homes for families and helping alleviate some of the housing crisis," Haskin added.


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