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ACTION ALERT:  Protect Our Urban Tree Canopy in Clackamas County 

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing June 8, Tuesday, 6:30 PM, at the Clackamas County Public Services Building (2051 Kaen Road, Oregon City) to consider proposed tree canopy protections for divisible land within the unincorporated areas within the urban growth boundary (UGB). Single Family lots are exempt, as are lands receiving forest tax deferrals.

Proposed protections were rejected by the Planning Commission in March as both being too stringent, and for not providing adequate canopy protection. It is now up to the Board to determine the next steps. They are getting considerable pressure to forego any protections at all.

The Board needs to hear your support for protecting our urban tree canopy!

Here are 3 simple things you can do to encourage the Board to adopt strong tree canopy protections.

1. Attend the public hearing, and speak in your own words as to the value of urban trees and the overall canopy. If you can attend but don't want to speak, you can print out a small 8"x11" sign to hold in your lap, expressing your position. Go to for signs to download. Pick the one that most expresses your values. Bring friends and family!

2. Send an email to the Board expressing your support for strong urban tree canopy protections. Send emails to, put "Tree Canopy Protection" in the subject line. A sample letter is below. Additional information is available at and also at

3. Send a letter to:
Clackamas County Board of Commissioners c/o Planning Division
Development Services Building
150 Beavercreek Road
Oregon City, OR 97045


Sample email/letter

Dear Chair Lynn Peterson, Commissioners Bob Austin, Jim Bernard, Charlotte Lehan and Ann Lininger,

Please act to protect our urban tree canopy within unincorporated Clackamas County. A healthy urban tree canopy is vital to our community because [...](fill in the blank.) I urge you to simplify and strengthen the proposed protections, include effective incentives to landowners to save their trees and plant more, provide for effective mitigation when trees to have to be cut, and a moratorium of 7-10 years on development if the landowner or developer cuts the trees without proper permits. Enforcement and high fines should be included.

We need a way to inventory our currently existing tree canopy and then measure whether policies to protect, maintain and enhance our urban trees are adequate. If not the protections need to be reviewed and rewritten on a regular basis. Education and incentive programs are also necessary; a volunteer Urban Tree Committee is one way to do this effectively.

Cities and counties throughout the US demonstrate that proper tree protections will lead to an enhanced tree canopy as well as smart, effective development that integrates habitat through smart design. A healthy canopy means higher property values, safer communities, cleaner water and more abundant wildlife.

Please adopt strong urban tree protection policies for Clackamas County!


[Your name and address]


Additional Talking Points are available on our Benefits of Trees page. Detailed information about the draft ordinance, including the proposal the majority of the Tree Task Force members approved, are available at this Clackamas County website..

Notes regarding the 15 page "alternatives" memo from the Planning Department.

You can find this document by going to the County website There is a link on the front page under Proposed Tree Ordinance, Preview Staff Report.

Members of CC Urban Green carefully reviewed this document, aided by Jim Labbe from the Audubon Society. It's made up of three documents: a 4 page cover memo, a longer part that is a series of detailed comments about the ordinance, and a final document outlining some alternatives for the BCC to consider.

How do citizens coherently and creatively respond to this document in 3 minutes? That's the question for June 8th.

We have the following suggestions:

1. Recommend to the Board that they appoint an expert Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to study all policy work done so far, to develop technically sound choices for the Board. We urge that TAC appointees be experts in this emerging science -based field, as well as experienced in managing effective tree protection regulations and programs.

2. Urge the TAC and the BCC to come up with measurable goals for all policies and programs adopted, to provide for ongoing evaluations and adjustments.

3. Encourage the TAC and BCC to address pre-development regulations to prevent clear cutting, and to make that a priority.

4. Urge the TAC and the BCC to develop effective policies, ordinances and programs to preserve, maintain and enhance the urban tree canopy, including incentives to plant additional tree canopy. Mitigations needs to be effective and local. Enforcement needs to be effective.

5. Encourage the TAC and the BCC to set up a permanent Urban Forestry Commission to oversee regular evaluations and provide adjustments to any tree regulations adopted.

We generally supported the staff's 3 phase approach, but the alternatives are still way too complex. It needs to be simplified, given to the TAC to rework. The ordinance would still not actually work. For example, just the word "practicable" as defined would allow anyone to do whatever they want to do.


Download and print these handbills (8.5 in. x 11 in. PDF's) to hold up during the June 8th meeting. Let the BCC know that you support the preservation and enhancement of our urban tree canopy. Choose the ones that best express your interests.


Click to download

For Our Birds


Click to download

For Clean Air


Click to download

For Clean Water


Click to download

For Community Health


Click to download

For Cooler Neighborhoods


Click to download

For Energy Conservation


Click to download

For Increased Business


Click to download

For Less Crime


Click to download

For Improved Property Values


Click to download

For Improved Public Safety


Click to download

For Wildlife


Click to download

For Beautiful Neighborhoods


Foothill Planning Associates Study

3/19/2010 - Foothill Planning Associates is a group of six Portland State University students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. Between January and June 2010 they are working with CCUG and the Oak Lodge Community Council to create an Oak Grove Neighborhood Center Plan within the unincorporated Oak Grove district of Clackamas County, Oregon. Click this link for more information about the project.

Letters to the Planning Commission

3/14/2010 - Urban Green's review of the proposed tree ordinance has found it to be ineffective in protecting or enhancing the tree canopy. Urban Green sent a letter to the Clackamas County Planning Commission stating its views. Read Urban Green's letter here (PDF).

The Oak Lodge Community Council did an extensive, in-depth review of the proposed ordinance. They also found it lacking in several important respects. Read their review documents on their website,

Tree Conservation Ordinance Update

3/2/2010 - Clackamas County Planning staff has issued a new version of the proposed tree conservation ordinance. Urban Green has obtained a copy and offer it to the community for their inspection.

New Tree Ordinance Documents

Here are the latest versions of the tree ordinance documents that have been created by the Planning Department and forwarded to the Planning Commission for review. The new documents include ZDOs (Zoning and Development Ordinances) and changes to the Comprehensive Plan.

Public Hearings Notice - details about the March 22 public hearing

Section 1020 - the tree ordinance

Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan - this is part of Chapter 3, dealing with trees

Conforming Amendments - a variety of amendments needed to stitch the tree ordinance into the existing ZDOs

Section 1001 - General provisions

Section 1002 - Protection of Natural Features

Section 1602 - Village residential districts

The Clackamas County Planning Commission will take public testamony on the tree ordinance at its March 22, 2010 meeting. The meeting will start at 6:30 PM and be held at the Development Services Building at 150 Beavercreek Road, Oregon City (map). Please attend and speak out for a strong and effective tree conservation ordinance.

How to Preserve Trees During Construction

OSU Extension Services published a guide for protecting, conserving, selecting, maintaining, removing, and replacing trees on development sites in the Pacific Northwest. The guidebook is designed to assist people who work with trees during the development and construction phases of both new and existing projects to keep healthy trees a part of the urban environment through the use of accepted tree care standards and practices. A quote from the Introduction:

"The urban forest is a valuable resource that provides economic, environmental, and social benefits. Quality of life in cities is enhanced when we have a canopy of trees shading our homes and streets, mitigating stormwater effects, providing energy savings, and improving property values. Research by the USDA Forest Service indicates that, for every $1 spent on urban trees, $2.70 in benefits is returned.

"As forests in the Pacific Northwest become more fragmented through urbanization and development, we lose a significant amount of the ecosystem services that forests provide, such as stormwater and flood control, and mitigation of greenhouse gases.

"This guidebook is designed to help the user retain healthy trees that contribute these services and benefits."

Download a copy of the guidebook: Tree Protection Guidebook [PDF]

Nature in Neighborhoods Capital Grant

We are happy to announce that Urban Green and the staff of Tri-Met has submitted an application for a Metro Nature in Neighborhoods capital grant to eco-restore and enhance the area surrounding the new Park Avenue Light Rail Station and Park and Ride garage in northern Clackamas County.

The team created an inspired vision of the new train station complex and brought together the ideas, people, and resources needed to accomplish the task. This will be a major milestone in creating a gateway into Oak Grove that we can be proud of.

Metro will determine the winners of the grant and the dollar amounts sometime in the first quarter of 2010. Stay tuned!

Click HERE to see the complete Nature in Neighborhoods Capital Grant submission. There is a detailed description of the request, a site plan, including architectural sketches, and a budget synopsis.

Tree Conservation Ordinance

NEWS 1/28/2010

The Clackamas County Planning Commission met on January 22, 2010 to discuss the Tree Conservation Ordinance. As they continue their process, they will be working with the County staff to bring the wording of the draft ordinance into compliance with standard ZDO language. They will also be making decisions about a variety of provisions in the draft ordinance. Their action can greatly affect the effectiveness of the ordinance. They will hold a public hearing on the ordinance on March 22, 2010, 6:30 PM at the Development Services Building in Oregon City. Urban Green urges you to attend this meeting and speak for a strong tree conservation ordinance.

NEWS 11/25/2009

The Board of County Commissioners met at a study session on 11/24 to discuss the tree ordinance. Jennifer Hughes presented the results of the staff review. A number of topics are still under discussion, and the Board decided to let the Planning Commission weigh in on them. The results of the Planning Commission's review will be the topic of a future BCC study session in "a couple of months."

The TF did not get to vote on the whole document submitted to the BCC. Seven members of the TF who wanted a more comprehensive ordinance submitted a modified version of the document, calling it the "Majority Report" (the seven members constituted a majority of the 12-member Task Force).

Urban Green reviewed both the Task Force document and the Majority Report and found some elements they thought would limit the effectiveness of the ordinance. They composed changes to the document to correct those limitations and submitted these to the BCC.

The Audubon Society also reviewed the Task Force/Majority Report document and proposed some additional language.

The changes from all groups were submitted as one document. Text color was used to identify the changes made by the various groups.

The following are the documents that were presented to the BCC for review.

  • Tree Ordinance Draft with all Changes (PDF) - this is the main document with color-coded text. Black is the original document prepared by County staff, red indicates text added by the Majority, blue indicates text added by the Audubon Society, and green (what else?) for Urban Green's additions.
  • Urban Green's Introductory Letter (PDF) - this is a letter submitted by Urban Green to accompany the ordinance draft.
  • Complying With the Forest Practices Act (PDF) - this is a synopsis (composed by Ellen Rogalin) of a letter from the Oregon Department of Forestry that clarifies some jurisdictional issues.
  • Urban Green Letter (PDF) - this is a cover letter for the Urban Green version of the Tree Ordinance Draft. It explains Urban Green's concerns and offers solutions.
  • Money Grows On Trees (PDF) - this is a document prepared by Urban Green that outlines the dollar value of a healthy urban tree canopy.
  • Audubon Letter to the BCC (PDF) - the Audubon Society sent this letter to express their views and offer amendments to the draft.
  • Tree Ordinance Request by Urban Green (PDF) - Urban Green sent this letter to the BCC formally requesting certain actions by the BCC.

What will happen next? The County staff will deliver the documents, along with instructions from the staff, to the Clackamas County Planning Commission for review. There will be opportunities for citizens to give testimony at the Planning Commission meetings. The results of the Planning Commission's deliberations will be returned to the BCC for action.

NEWS 10/5/2009

The latest information from Ellen Rogalin, Clackamas County Communications Specialist:

The County staff has scheduled another study session with the Board of County Commissioners from 10-11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24. As usual, you are welcome to attend and observe.

As requested by the Commissioners at the Nov. 24 trees ordinance study session, the staff will present recommendations about the items on the "parking lot issues" list and a proposal for how to implement and manage the trees ordinance. Even though CC Urban Green has encouraged making the tree ordinance self-supporting through fees and fines, there is still concern that budgetary restrictions will limit the scope of tree protections.

As Chair Lynn Peterson said on Sept. 22, “We need to make this [the ordinance] happen.” Now, our job is to figure out how best to do that within the restraints of a very tight budget and minimal staffing.

NEWS 9/15/2009

Here is the final document set that will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners by the Trees Task Force chairperson, Eileen Eakins, at there meeting on September 22. Here is the letter from Ellen Rogalin that accompanies the materials.

Good afternoon,

Attached, numbered in order from 1 to 6, are the materials we are sending to the BCC for the 11 a.m., Sept. 22 study session on the draft proposed tree ordinance. Task Force Chair Eileen Eakins will present the material along with Senior Planner Jennifer Hughes. Task force members and the public are welcome to attend.

Thanks to all the task force members who sent comments and suggestions about the draft ordinance. Most of the comments seemed to reflect individual opinions, so we did not feel we could incorporate them into the ordinance at this point, but will make sure they are shared with decision-makers as the process moves forward.

We did add to the Parking Lot Issues list the notation that the task force voted to have trees violations be a level 1 priority, as suggested by Catherine. That does not belong in the ordinance itself, but it is something the group had approved that we had neglected to mention.

We will be back in touch after the study session to let you know what direction we receive from the Commissioners regarding next steps. Thanks again for your continued interest and involvement.

Ellen Rogalin
Community Relations Specialist
Clackamas County Department of
Transportation & Development
Development Services Building
150 Beavercreek Rd., Oregon City, OR 97045

And here are the docs she sent:

BCC Study Session Worksheet - agenda for the meeting

Task Force Charge & Scope - the rules by which the Task Force worked

Task Force Members - list of members who participated in the Task Force

Draft Proposed Ordinance - the result of the work of the Task Force

Parking Lot Issues - issues that arose in discussion but were not resolved

Impact of Proposed Ordinance - summary of the effect if the proposed ordinance were enacted

The BCC study meeting will be held at the Public Services Building, 4th floor, 150 Beavercreek Road, Oregon City. It is an open public meeting and we urge you to attend.

For a history of the progress of the tree conservation ordinance, see Old News.

A Little About the Task Force

The Task Force (TF) has completed its tasks and delivered its findings to the BCC.

The membership of the task force included a spectrum of 'stakeholders" representing the interests that one assumes would be affected by a tree conservation ordinance. Here is a list of the members and the interests they represent:

Task Force Members
Eilene Eakins - task force chair, North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce Ernie Platt - Homebuilders Association
Eric Shawn - Audubon Society John Landon - Landscape architects and or arborists
Bryon Boyce - Clackamas River Basin Council Bob Murch - Member-at-large and main author of the CCUG model tree ordinance
Richard Shook - Complete Communities Environmental Task Force Ruth Toler - Realtors
Bill Howe - CPOs in the urban area Trish Nixon - Sustainability task force, architects
James Wick - Forester/Ecologist Catherine Blosser - CC Urban Green

The Loss of Our Urban Tree Forest

CC Urban Green is aware of the importance of development within the UGB.  Though slowed now because of the economic collapse, development will continue, and such development is said to be necessary to accommodate the large population increase that Oregon expects over the next 20 years. But it is simply wrong not to be able to stop someone from coming into the county, buying a piece of land in the middle of a neighborhood and clear-cutting all the trees with no attempt to save any trees, and taking no input from the neighborhood or the county. The citizens of the county within the UGB do not want to see this continue in their neighborhoods.

Help us put the brakes on what a builder friend of ours referred to as “a loophole big enough to drive several logging trucks through”.

CC Urban Green's Model Tree Conservation Ordinance

Responding to the County's saying that they do not have the resources to create a tree conservation ordinance, CC Urban Green did the research and took the best of the best tree ordinance components to use as a model. It applies to the unincorporated area of Clackamas County within the UGB. It only targets properties that can be subdivided for high-density development - in other words, "new development". It does not address existing residential property where the homeowner might want to cut or trim trees for landscaping purposes. Because of the existing loophole, it is intended to regulate tree cutting before a developer applies for a building permit.

To learn more about Urban Green's model tree conservation ordinance, click here: Tree Conservation Ordinance.

What You Can Do To Help



To ensure that the county moves forward with the tree ordinance (including measures to close the loophole), we encourage residents, businesses, and local organizations to demonstrate their support for it. These are the things you can do to show your support:

  • Come to the next task force meeting! - meetings are open to the public and you can not only observe the process, but there is an opportunity to talk to the members.
  • Write Emails - to the BCC, the planning department, and/or the press
    • Express your support for closing the loophole. Be very clear: the loophole as it is operating now within the UGB is unacceptable.
    • Ask the Chair to re-state the charge and the scope of the Task Force, before it meets again, to comply with the original intent to close the loophole.
    • Tell them why you want our tree canopy protected - what does it mean to you personally?
  • Tell your friends - send an email to everyone you know who lives in Clackamas County and ask them to send emails too. While you are at it, tell them to ask everyone they know to do the same.

Prize Trees

Become Active - Express Your Views

CLICK! - if you agree that a tree conservation ordinance is needed, please sign our email petition. All you need to do is click HERE and fill in a little information. At the same time, join our email list.

Sound the alarm! - when you see gross mismanagement of our urban trees in the unincorporated area of Clackamas County, make it very visible to our community. Raise your voice in protest. Speak your truth!

Things you can do:

  • Send a message to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC), demanding that they intervene. Let them know that the citizens expect them to do something to correct the problem.

  • Send emails to whomever you think can influence Clackamas County policy. Tell them what is happening and encourage them to email the BCC to insist that they do something about it (for instance, get a useful tree conservation ordinance on the books!).

  • Send emails to local newspapers so an even wider audience knows what is happening.

If you want some help or advice on how to do these things, please contact us.

Phone: 503 659-9338

Please do what you can to protect our urban forest!


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