Goodbye, Norway Maples
City removes invasive Norway Maples from the Western Prom, and will return with native trees and shrubs in the spring
By Tony Zeli
The removal of an invasive species of tree on the Western Prom caused concern among West End residents who worried that Portland crews were clear cutting the promenade. But the clearing of dozens of Norway Maples was all part of the city’s master plan for the Western Prom.
“Many of the Norway Maples had defects common with the species, prone to storm damage, trunk cracks, and we did have a few trees fail recently,” said Jeff Tarling, the city’s arborist.
The removal of Norway Maples along the Western Promenade occurred in late December. Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, forestry crews removed Norway Maple trees from two areas, the southern viewshed across from the Western Cemetery and the Valley Street playground, community garden, and dog park edges, technically part of the Western Promenade.
“The grove of invasive trees is an indication that the area was once open,” said Tarling. The clearing on the southern view area revealed historic views of the Fore River. The invasive Norway Maples had obscured these public views for decades. “Nearby, established Red Oak, Black Cherry, Pine, and Birch groves represent the native trees that would be found in Maine.”
Tarling is generating a plan for replanting in the spring. It starts with a list of native trees and shrubs to buffer nearby residential properties and screen some of the commercial views below. But the new landscape will preserve view corridors to the Fore River and the west. The City also plans trail improvements, and storm water runoff improvements are to include rain gardens.
The big picture theme according to Tarling is to complement the nearby Western Cemetery Pitch Pine environment. Pitch Pine is found in the cemetery and on the slope near Vaughan Street, but nowhere else in Portland do we find a groove like we have in the West End. A few can be found in the Evergreen Cemetery woods and there are a few here and there. But the Pitch Pine of the Western Prom is to be treasured.
More plans for the spring improvements will be available in March.