City of Portland planted trees in downtrodden neighborhood and then didn't bother to water them

Originally published at: City of Portland planted trees in downtrodden neighborhood and then didn't bother to water them | Boing Boing


West side trees don’t need to be watered because the aquifer is accessible. The east side of the city is mostly paved over, which means no aquifer, which is why these trees are needed, but also why they dried up.

The city could have installed automatic irrigation when they planted the trees, but ?


If watering is outside the scope, why not install shade structures like this?


“We only trim trees for visibility and clear brush. We simply are not set up for nor have the skills for tree maintenance beyond that.”

Watering is actually EASIER than trimming trees. Ask me how I know. If you can do the former, you can handle the latter.


Agreed, but that would have cost more than the trees themselves and wouldn’t have provided as impressive a “look at how we’re helping!” photo op.


Somebody didn’t think this through. Or, maybe it was a turf war. If PBOT had no resources to maintain the trees, they should have hired someone. G.d., how hard can that be, for an agency with a half-billion dollar budget? You can find this kind of money under the lobby seat cushions. And Parks and Rec has GOT to have at least one truck that can water 'em. Figure something out.

Also, PBOT budget officer and program managers: pay attention. It’s been a very dry year in the PNW. Trees are not a plant 'em and forget 'em thing anymore, Portland or anywhere.


Probably a staffing/resource allocation issue rather than a “skills” issue. Most trees only need to be pruned once every 3-5 years, but watering is a much more frequent thing and would require a water truck if the lot being watered doesn’t have its own spigots.

Not exactly insurmountable obstacles but still something that needs to get funded if it’s gonna happen. Like others have said this was bad planning.


Watering trees is not a particularly skill-intensive task. I have accomplished it for years with no training or special equipment at all! Oh well…


They just stumbled onto the carbon offset tree planting scam.


Truer words have never before been spoken by a fucking hammer. Instead of being a hammer, Schafer could instead try to be a living breathing human with a functional brain. When faced with “Who’s going to water those young ones? Certainly not us! We only trim!” instead ask those living nearby if they would be willing to lend a hand. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, the folks in that community might want to make their community just a bit better if someone would just STEP THE FUCK UP and ask for volunteers.


Google Street View has images of the area from March 2022 when the trees were still alive. There is also what appears to be a homeless encampment on the lot, so I wonder if that had any effect on how Portland cared for the trees.

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… to be fair, the whole idea that anything needs to be “watered” is a new thing here

Until very recently it would never go more than a few weeks between storms, even in the summer

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Maybe like this? (Note the words about training or experience.)

Our local tree wardens look for people who will, for example, pour a can of water over a newly planted street tree in their road/near their house, once a week, for the first few years.


Wait. Why would pavement mean no aquifer? Did they plant the trees above the pavement?

According to the USGS (warning: 22 MB), it looks like the area in question is just in a place where the aquifer is rather far down (~140 ft).

By contrast, the springs are in places where the aquifer is only 10-15 ft down.

Context, dude. Context:

Right above your quote block.

Doug firs can reach that 140 ft, but sapling silver maples (by the look of the pictures) do not.

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I guess the neighbors couldn’t water them?

30 trees, 10 gallons a week each, looks some distance from a water source, and the neighbours are mainly commercial.

“… not our problem” is the corporate motto


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