Neighborhood activists will hold a memorial ceremony in on Sunday, March 3, for the giant sequoia that the city chopped down last week in Pier Park in St. Johns to make way for a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.
The memorial is being organized by Chris Fountain, the woman arrested last week for crossing police lines to save the sequoia. She says the ceremony, which starts at 3 pm Sunday, is "kind of a wake for the tree"—but also a warning that the rest of the grove is in danger being violated by an 10-foot-wide asphalt path.
"Even though the tree is down, this is not the end of the road," Fountain says. "All the plans that we have been shown, show the the path going straight through the sequoia grove. The integrity of the entire grove is in danger. We're also concerned that more trees might be cut down."
The planned 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. Activists say its planned size—large enough to support a fire truck—is invasive.
The city plans to turn the felled sequoia into an educational exhibit and children's play area in Westmoreland Park.
Fountain was arrested on Feb. 22 for crossing police tape as contractors hired by Portland Parks & Recreation cut down the sequoia, which stood 12 stories tall and measured 18 feet in circumference. She spent 45 minutes in jail and was released.
She has since started a website and a letter-writing campaign to Mayor Charlie Hales, fighting the bridge and the path through the grove.
"We want to honor the tree—honor the fact that it lost its life," Fountain says of Sunday's event. "A lot of us who spend time in the park feel these trees are our friends. We feel like we lost a friend. I don't go to church, but when I walk through the middle of that grove, I feel like I'm in church."