City rejects PGE’s Forest Park cutting plan

Portland General Electric (PGE) recently submitted a Land Use Application to the City of Portland proposing to clearcut at least 5 acres of Forest Park to make way for increased electrical lines extending to the crest of the park. The land use application was analyzed and rejected by the Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) for being incomplete. 

People touring area to be clear cut in Forest Park
People touring area PGE proposes to be clear cut in Forest Park

The application’s submission bypassed several steps park advocates had long awaited.

The Forest Park Conservancy and city representatives of the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan had expected to see a more detailed description of the project, a mitigation plan to address removal of natural resources, and an analysis of other potential sites prior to the land use application submission. 

In rejecting the proposal, BDS requires a list of items to be addressed in order for the application to be fully evaluated. Among these were conflicts with the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan, inconsistencies in the proposal, inadequate mitigation proposals, and the removal of trees outside of PGE’s easement, among other things.

A PGE representative had earlier stated in meetings with the public that the work would be done only within their existing easement. See a link to the BDS memo in response here.

Additional info regarding future phases of the work was also requested by multiple city agencies in order to understand future impacts. The application only included 3 phases of the 5-phase project. If future phases require more tree removal, the current proposal does not give a full picture of impacts. PGE has stated they do not have details on future phases to share with the public at this time.

The city allows up to 180 days to amend an application, so PGE will have until November 6th to complete their proposal.

The Forest Park Conservancy opposes the current proposal due to its impact on the northern portion of Forest Park, and especially to the Northern red-legged frog, a species protected in Oregon due to loss of habitat. A remnant population of the frogs inhabits the affected area. Adult red-legged frogs like cool damp forests and forested wetlands. During the non-breeding season, adult frogs spend most of their time on land along wooded streams, in moist sedge or brush, along shaded pond edges or under logs and other forest debris. The frogs also use the park as a migration pathway down to the ponds below during breeding season in early spring.

A remnant population of Northern red-legged frogs inhabits Forest Park
A remnant population of Northern red-legged frogs inhabits Forest Park

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