Removal of Invasive Trees on Western Prom Concerns Neighbors
By Tony Zeli
The removal of an invasive species of tree on the Western Promenade caused concern among neighbors who worried it was a clear cutting. Beginning on Monday morning, December 14th, the Portland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department began work removing Norway Maples on the Western Promenade.
Forestry crews removed only 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 clearing on the southern view area reveals historic views of the Fore River. The invasive Norway Maples had obscured these public views for decades.
West End residents have seen many other large tree removals on private property in recent years: 75 State Street, Precious Blood Monastery, Western Commercial Street, Dermot Court, Elm Terrace, Danforth Heights… Their desire to save urban trees led to the adoption of a Heritage Tree Ordinance earlier this year. The ordinance protects large trees on private property in the historic district.
It is no surprise neighbors were concerned when they saw Portland crews cutting down large trees along the Western Promenade on December 14th. That morning a West Street resident described the scene as a clear cutting and said they were outraged by it. They did not know it was the planned removal of a non-native species.
Western Prom tree removal – is it really all part of a plan?
In fact, the City of Portland is following Master Plan guidelines and recommendations. The Western Prom Master Plan calls for reducing Norway Maple populations whenever possible. The City says that the clearing on the southern Western Promenade is all Norway Maple removal. They have left native Red Oak and Black Cherry to thrive. Work on Valley Street will improve the woodland edge, giving more clearance for future green space for play and community gardens.
Why in December?
Turns out, the early winter is an excellent time to conduct this work.
Parks crews will follow up with improvements as conditions allow. This will include the planting of new native trees and landscaping in spring and summer 2021. Also, the City will pursue strategic stump removal with the native replanting in the spring and summer. For now, all the stumps are still in place to provide slope stabilization.
In addition, Public Works wants residents to know they will focus on storm water and erosion control. A rain garden project is slated for bid in spring 2021.
Tony Zeli is publisher and editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.