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May 16th, 2007 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

Port of Portland

     
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Just because something complies with the law doesn't make you less of a Rogue if it isn't right.

Therefore, this week's award goes to the Port of Portland for its legal, but lazy, move to chop down 225 trees near Portland International Airport during birds' peak nesting season.

The Port says the tree-felling is needed to create a new lane in both directions on Airport Way as well as a new 3,500-space parking garage.

But Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland, blasts the Port's decision to remove the bird habitat in May.

Why? Because the project has been in the works since late 2005. Waiting until now means that nearly all 209 bird species in the area (including several that are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) will be hiding in well-concealed nests to avoid predators when workers start shouting, "Timber!"

"This is an example of the Port once again doing the absolute minimum required by law," says Sallinger.

A city-approved conditional-use master plan for the airport doesn't require the Port to replace lost landscape. Still, the Port's mission statement says it integrates environmental concerns with its planning. That's hard to square with this project, given that even the Port's wildlife manager, Nick Atwell, says "it's definitely not an ideal time" for the tree-chopping.

(Atwell says he and his workers search for nests before and after trees are felled. So far, they have identified only one American-crow nest.)

Port spokesman Steve Johnson ascribes the project's delay to the Federal Aviation Administration, which granted the Port permission to go ahead only in late April. "We had actually hoped to remove the necessary trees before the nesting season," he says.

Johnson couldn't say every felled tree would be replaced, because officials don't want to attract birds back to an area where aircraft take off and land.

But the Rogue Desk asks why the Port couldn't have filed a better flight plan to finish the project without evicting our feathered friends.

 
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