Heritage Trees are trees that have been formally recognized by Portland City Council for their unique size, age, historical, or horticultural significance. The Heritage Tree ordinance became part of the Portland City code on May 19, 1993, and the first Heritage Trees were designated in 1994. There are nearly 300 Heritage Trees throughout Portland. About 10% of these trees are located in Irvington.
Impress your friends when you point out the canopy of Caucasian Wingnut trees on Knott Street, or visit the amazing Weeping Cherry on 18th when it blooms each Spring. New trees are added each year, and anyone can nominate a Heritage Tree! Maybe there is one in your yard worthy of this special honor?
Heritage Tree Nomination
The Heritage Tree ordinance calls for the City Forester to annually prepare a list of trees that are of special importance to the City. A group of citizen volunteers visit each nominated tree to confirm the tree species, measure the tree, and determine if the tree meets the criteria. Upon recommendation of the Urban Forestry Commission, the City Council may designate a tree as a Heritage Tree provided the tree's health, aerial space, and open ground area for the root system have been certified as sufficient.
Download this form to nominate a tree. No tree on private property can be designated without the consent of the property owner. This consent binds all successors, heirs, and assigns. The annual deadline for nomination is May 1st. It takes about one year from nomination to receive a Heritage Tree designation if the nomination is accepted.
Protecting Heritage Trees
Once accepted by Council, Heritage Trees are given a small plaque so they can be identified by the public, and they are listed in the Heritage Tree Database.
Since Heritage Trees are protected by City Code, no Heritage Tree can be removed without the consent of the Urban Forestry Commission and the Portland City Council. No tree on private property can be designated without the consent of the property owner. This consent binds all successors, heirs, and assigns. The Heritage Tree Ordinance further states that it is unlawful for any person, without a prior written permit from the Forester, to remove, destroy, cute, prune, break, or injure any Heritage Tree.
Pruning Heritage Trees
A permit from the Urban Forestry is required before pruning, removing, inoculating, or doing any other tree work on a Heritage Tree regardless if the tree is in the City right-of-way or on private property. These permits are free and include a consultation by an Urban Forestry Tree Inspector. Visit the City website for more information on tree permits. The City also provides a list of local arborists offering discounts on Heritage Tree work.
Before beginning any work on a Heritage Tree, call Urban Forestry (503) 823-4489 to obtain your free permit.
Removal of Heritage Trees
A Heritage Tree can only be approved for removal if it is dead, dying, or dangerous. The Urban Forestry Commission and the Portland City Council must formally decommission the tree before a permit can be issued for removal. Call Urban Forestry (503) 823-4489 for more information.