Here is some information on this process and discussion for member review. Members may provide feedback via email. A final draft will be presented and voted on during one of our fall 2019 general meetings.
A DRAFT Declaration of Support to Preserve and Protect Mature Urban Street Trees in the Jefferson Westside Neighbors Neighborhood
The Jefferson Westside Neighbors area is defined by its extensive, dense, healthy, and well-maintained street trees. Mature street trees help define our community culture. The benefits of protecting and preserving this arboreal system far outweigh any advantages gained by tree removal. Therefore, Jefferson Westside Neighbors and Friends of Trees declare the goal of a zero-net loss of mature urban street trees in Jefferson Westside Neighbors.
Mature urban street trees should only be removed to protect public health and safety and should not be removed to facilitate public or private development.
Urban deforestation is a major problem in U.S cities. A study in the May 2018 issue of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening reports that nationwide, metropolitan areas are experiencing a net loss of about 36 million trees every year or about 175,000 acres of tree cover, most of it in central city and suburban areas, but also on the exurban fringes resulting in an annual loss of about $96 million in benefits.
Urban trees provide a host of benefits as relatively low cost.
Trees help mitigate global warming and save energy: Leaves absorb light energy, thereby reducing reflected heat. They also absorb water through their root system and release moisture through the leaf surfaces via transpiration, which cools the air. Trees can reduce the surrounding air temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature directly under the tree by as much as 25 degrees. Shading impervious surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, streets, and parking lots improves micro-climates significantly by reducing glare and reflected heat. In the winter, trees protect homes from wind and reduce heating costs.
Trees make us healthy: Trees are important for a healthy ecosystem by cleaning our air, water, and soil and absorb storm water that normally would end up in our rivers. Trees sequester carbon (up to 150 kg of C02 per year per mature tree) and absorb other airborne pollutants (such as ozone) and they even have the ability to clean contaminated soil and ground water. Trees in street proximity absorb nine times more pollutants than more distant trees, Exposure to greenspaces can be psychologically and physiologically restorative by promoting mental health, reducing blood pressure and stress levels, and by promoting physical activity.
Trees make us safer: Having access to views of natural settings have been found to reduce crime and aggression, and improve recovery from surgery. Inclusion of trees and other streetscape features in the roadside environment may actually reduce crashes and injuries on urban roadways. Urban street trees create vertical walls framing streets, providing a defined edge, helping motorists guide their movement and assess their speed (leading to overall speed reductions). Motorists perceive it takes less time to transit treed versus non-treed environments, which can reduce speeding. A treeless environment trip is perceived to be longer than one that is treed
Trees provide habitat: Trees provide habitat for insects, birds, bats, and other urban wildlife. Large, old trees feed and shelter birds and small mammal species. Many animals also use mature trees for reproduction sites, nesting, resting and for places from which to hunt or capture prey. Certain birds that engage in catching flying insects directly out of the air use these perches to launch their aerial attacks. By welcoming birds, bats, and other insectivores, humans and trees alike benefit from the resulting insect pest control. Birds use the branches of mature trees for nests; as trees grow older, their branches become large and begin to grow horizontally rather than vertically, creating attractive platforms for nest construction. Additionally, plants, lichens, and fungi may use a tree as a growing substrate or food source.
Trees save or even make us money: Mature trees can increase the property value of a home between 1 and 10%. Businesses on treescaped streets show 12% higher income streams. The shade of urban street trees can add from 40-60% more life to costly asphalt.
For all these reasons, there are few improvements that offer as many benefits as mature street trees and therefore we feel that their preservation should take priority.
Input from Friends of Trees
Here’s some feedback (in below comments P means paragraph).
- That’s wonderful that folks care so much about neighborhood trees!
- P1: I personally do not feel that JWN has “extensive, dense, healthy and well-maintained street trees.” For me to feel that this was true I would want to see a 90% or greater stocking rate, rate 75% of the trees as in good, very good, or excellent health, and have most trees get regular pruning. I don’t believe any of these things are true.
- The final sentence of P1 makes a nice goal. But I’m not sure how it could happen or how it could be measured or operationalized. What about storm damage, illegal removals, drought damage, the fact that most trees planted in the past were trees adapted to summer rainfall climates and not suited for our climate, that in the clay belt of JWN many trees were planted that are not suited for clay soils, that many trees were planted in currently unapproved locations (i.e. too close to intersections), etc. etc.? The “zero-net loss” is a challenging concept. Mature trees take decades to replace without Phil Knight $ so when trees are lost in storms, for example, how do we not have a net loss unless we have a way to calculate the incremental progress towards maturity of the smaller trees?
- P2 in bold: Isn’t this current city practice if not policy? In more than 30 years of paying attention I’ve never seen the urban forestry division staffed with more passionate tree advocates. What are examples of this not being the case? Great goal and statement. Doesn’t this declaration only apply to public “street” trees? Private is a whole other can of worms. It throws me to have the declaration mention street trees and then throw in private in P2.
- The benefits of trees section is excellent! I particularly liked how you incorporated habitat and public health values.
- Is this declaration geared to opposing potential EmX lines down the nicely treed W 11th section of JWN from Jefferson to Fillmore? The approach there in my book is to not allow street widening from downtown to Chambers.
Some goals for JWN I would suggest to benefit trees include:
- full stocking (every planting space having a tree),
- a 7 yr pruning cycle (every tree gets visited and pruned if needed every 7 years minimum),
- incentives and tax deductions to land owners for preservation and care of large trees,
- funding for JWN or FOT, etc. to work with the city to inventory all important large trees to preserve and protect on public and private land.
- funding for FOT or other local groups to continue planting trees working towards full stocking,
- funding for FOT or other local groups or JWN neighbors to prune small trees block by block in JWN for structure and clearance. FOT currently does a small amount each year in JWN and it’s made a huge difference.
- funding for increasing the COE/FOT Trees for Concrete partnership to remove concrete and create spots for vegetation.
- The best way to insure large trees into the future is to preserve soil volume for trees that are young now. How do we do this? The key to preserving trees is preserving soils.
- funding for yard tree planting and educational support like FOT provides to develop a good private canopy. About 70-80% of our city is private but FOT has no yard tree funding. We are working on getting support so we could provide discounted trees and educational support.
A few general FYI’s, last bullet JWN related.
- FYI, FOT (then Eugene Tree Foundation) developed a new tree code and it was passed by council sometime around 2002 but thrown out on a technicality on an appeal to LUBA by the Chamber of Commerce and Home builders assn., and it’s been hard to generate much interest in a new attempt to generate a new tree code ever since. I’ve asked dozens of people to help work on this and gotten little support.
- FOT has no advocacy funding, but is currently looking at options to work towards strengthening the tree code including lobbying for a statewide law like Hawaii’s amazing one, or a local approach.
- FOT is working on trying to find funding to start a legacy or exceptional tree program either locally or statewide and towards how to find protection for private trees as mentioned above. Our defunct legacy tree program still has plaques on the Jefferson St horsechestnuts in JWN.