Tales From The Trails:

Storm Response in Forest Park

What a lively start to 2017 we’ve had!

The Tualatin Mountains, where Forest Park lies, are not used to the type of brutal storms we’ve experienced this winter. Our usually moderate climate does not adequately prepare our trees for the onslaught of below freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and ice cover that we’ve seen this year. While it was beautiful outside with the snow draped over everything in sight, it also put our trees (and trails) under considerable stress. The last snowstorm started when it was still warm and the snow was very wet, which made it stick to branches. It also made the snow heavier, which put trees under considerable weight. When trees are under pressure they are much more likely to drop branches or, in some cases fall all together.

Kendra Peterson-Morgan,Forest Park Ecologist at Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R), says that this winter’s storm season has been especially destructive to our beloved park. “Since November, more than 250 trees have fallen in Forest Park and that doesn’t include last week’s storms,” Kendra says. “Because of the amount of snow and ice we’ve had the past week and a half, we haven’t been able to access the park to start assessing the damage.”

This creates quite a challenge for FPC’s trails staff and PP&R. FPC works in collaboration with Portland Parks and Recreation to ensure that the trees are cleared and the trails are safe to use. After a large storm, both FPC and PP&R staff walk the trails as soon as it’s safe to assess any damage. First, we must ensure that the large emergency access roads like Leif Erikson and Saltzman Road are cleared. This means going along the road and removing each downed tree and smaller debris we find. After these roads are cleared, we can move on to the smaller trails.

As always, we also rely heavily on our volunteers to help clear the trails. Join us on National Trails Day on Saturday, June 3rd! And, if you want to donate to support our work throughout Forest Park, we always welcome your gifts. Just click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

Please be safe! If you are out in the park at this time! Tree limbs can still fall even though the storms have passed and the ground is so saturated that trees will continue to fall in some areas. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If you like to run with headphones during the rest of the year, leave them at home or turn them down to hear potential hazards. While the worst of the weather may be behind us, we still anticipate some landslides due to the snow melting and continued rain.

“We ask that people are patient with the recovery effort, as it takes a large effort to bounce back from such a big storm,” Kendra says. “I want people to know that we are doing everything we can, but It’s going to take time for the trails to get back to normal.”

If you are unsure about whether you should go to Forest Park right now, check PP&R’s website by clicking here.

Thank you for your patience as we work to clear the trails so they are safe for all of us.


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