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The Wilsonville government wants public input for its tree canopy management strategy

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WILSONVILLE - The Wilsonville government is creating a plan for how to manage the allotment of trees in town over the coming decades.

For the first time, the Wilsonville government is formulating a plan for managing the city's urban forest. And it's asking the community to help fine-tune the vision.

The city will post a community survey on its Let's Talk Wilsonville website starting Nov. 16 and is holding a community meeting on the project Nov. 17.

"We want to look at ways to preserve, sustain, diversify and regenerate the forest and make it as viable as possible," said Kerry Rappold, the city's natural resources manager.

Rappold said there are 24,000 trees in Wilsonville and the city is in the process of more specifically documenting what kinds of trees there are and where they're located. The city completed a similar survey for street trees in 2018.

"We may want to increase the tree canopy by 25% in the next 25 years. Then we have to figure out how we do that," Rappold said. "It could have a number of ramifications in terms of our operations or code. It depends on where we end up with that type of recommendation and how public and elected bodies feel about it."

Charbonneau and Town Center are two focus areas in the plan, the former because there have been complaints about the surplus of northern red oak trees on French Prairie Road and the latter as part of the city's plan to redevelop the commercial district.

"There's been issues over time with branches breaking, the condition of those trees and what they've done to the sidewalk or path," Rappold said about the trees in Charbonneau.

Rappold noted that the Villebois neighborhood was influenced in part by the existing trees in that area and surmised that the Town Center redevelopment could take a similar shape.

"Town Center is going to undergo redevelopment sometime in the future and we wanted to identify the trees with the highest priority to preserve and ensure they're retained in future redevelopment," Rappold said.

Rappold also said street trees constraining infrastructure implementation has been a challenge in recent years and that factor will be considered in the plan.

"You can have conflicts. It's a matter of balancing that and recognizing street trees provide a tremendous benefit, but development sites are getting smaller and smaller in terms of what needs to be accommodated," he said.

Rappold added that climate change, as well as pest management and tree diversity, could help decide what kind of trees to plant in the future.

"The trees we have today may not be the most appropriate trees to have 25 years from now," he said. "Climate change is changing that every day as far as where trees are adapted to living (compared to) what they were 20 or 30 years ago."

The city is planning to complete a draft of the plan in December and Rappold said they will have more data about their findings at that time. For more information on the project, visit www.letstalkwilsonville.com/ufmp.


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