August 25th, 2008 5:33 pm | by Hannah Hultine News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Environment

In the Name of the Levee: Crews begin removing disputed Bridgetown trees


Today, the orange tape was cut. Sixty-eight condemned trees along Northeast Portland's Bridgetown levee began to be removed at 10 o'clock this morning as part of FEMA's post-Katrina levee certification program.

In 2007, when the Bridgetown levee was identified as a levee not meeting FEMA certification requirements, Bob Eaton, Executive Director of Penininsula Drainage District No. 2., was put in charge of spearheading needed changes. Eaton hired The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the dirty work.

Eaton says the Corps advised the removal of trees because, of two reasons: “Levees are made of sand and in storms the trees may be knocked over, leaving holes in the levee. And second, tree roots act as conduits for water – leading to faster levee breakdown.”

In the past (see this 2007 Rogue of the Week), Eaton and his drainage district have been criticized by neighborhood residents and local environmental groups like the Columbia Riverkeeper for placing death sentences on trees lining the levee too quickly.

Now, neighborhood councils and the drainage district have come to an accepted agreement. Beth Sorenson, Portland Parks and Recreation spokeswoman, says, “334 shallow-rooted trees will be planted over the next couple of years so the neighborhood can retain its character.”

And today, Sorenson says she watched as crews wrenched cedar trees from the levee, careful to keep the trees fully intact with their roots. This root-with-tree removal is part of the neighborhood's agreement with the drainage district, because the uprooted trees will be used in restoring waterway fish habitats.

Amidst screeching chainsaws, Walter Volenta, a representative of the area's neighborhood council tells WW, “I am happy with the settlement that we reached, the planting of the new trees will protect the livability of the neighborhood”.

Here's a video (from last year's Rogue) with drainage district deputy director Dave Hendricks:
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And here's a tree-filled drive along the levee:
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