The City of Portland this morning began cutting down a 12-story sequoia tree in Pier Park in St. Johns to make way for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, despite a week-long effort by neighborhood activists to save it.
Portland Police arrested one of those activists this morning at 10 am, after she crossed a police line around the tree, which is 120 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference.
More than dozen city officials spent most of yesterday negotiating with a handful of activists and neighbors—even bringing in a city-contracted mediator with Resolutions Northwest—while contractors began cutting down two nearby Douglas firs that were also in the path of the bridge.
Mayor Charlie Hales had instructed officials with the Parks & Recreation Bureau not to begin cutting down the tree until they had made a full case to the activists about the public process that went into deciding to cut it down.
By this morning, the tree-chopping had become a media circus, with at least two TV stations and two radio stations covering the event live. Reporters from KOIN asked Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes if a mayoral staffer had promised not to chop the sequoia today.
"No such promise," Haynes replied.
The bridge will link Chimney Park with Pier Park, and is part of a 10.3 mile North Portland Greenway trail leading to the Eastbank Esplanade in downtown Portland. The Oregonian previously reported that parks officials wanted to cut the tree down before March 1 to avoid disturbing the nests of migratory birds.