By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: Attention now turns to downtown trees

Trees, particularly downtown trees, are important to McMinnville, and public angst erupts when talk turns to removal of existing downtown trees as part of future redevelopment.

With an expanding timeline for McMinnville’s downtown renovation project, existing tree problems need attention. McMinnville long ago recognized the inevitability of such problems with this local ordinance:

“The City shall adopt implementation measures that cause, through rotation over time, the development of a variable aged stand of trees within the Downtown Tree Zone … the Planning Director shall authorize, but shall limit, annual tree removal within the downtown to no more than three (3) percent of the total number of existing downtown trees in the Downtown Tree Zone.”


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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The ordinance continues: “A street tree within the Downtown Tree Zone may be removed if the Planning Director determines that the tree is causing repeated and excessive damage to sidewalks or other public or private improvements or structures … shall direct removal of downtown trees that are identified in a current Downtown Tree Zone inventory assessment as unhealthy, dangerous to the public, inappropriate for the downtown area, or otherwise in need of removal.”

Damage to downtown sidewalks can’t be ignored while downtown renovation plans are delayed. The city’s challenge is to resolve those unsafe conditions without excessive costs for replacement infrastructure that would be ripped up again in a few years.

People love the downtown trees, but major Third Street renovation envisioned by the city can’t occur without a generational redo of the street tree system. As plans unfold, we might refer to this note from a local timber expert:

“I am amused by people’s love of trees with little understanding of their dynamic nature. Downtown McMinnville has an exciting new revitalization plan. Why not get rid of all of the existing trees? By picking and choosing the most healthy to leave and removing the others makes little sense to me … To pay some urban forester to assess the trees also makes little sense, but it does give cover for those making removal decisions.

“It will only be a matter of time before the remaining maples show signs of stress and will have to be dealt with. I’d remove them all and plant new trees, perhaps of the same or even a different species. After a short period of a decade or two (foresters think in decades), downtown would look amazing.

“I don’t appreciate tree huggers who have no concept of Nature’s dynamics, especially regarding trees. Trees live and then they die.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.



I think anyone with a basic knowledge of trees would fully realize that many of our trees along Third Street in Mac are in poor shape, and most ought to be removed in the upcoming Third Street enhancement project. Many are exotic, and should not have been planted there in the first place. They are also too large for their sites, causing damage to sidewalks and other infrastructure. I really hope whomever decides on what trees and plants to use in their places are more appropriate. Focus on natives adapted to our area, and on urban varieties that do not get so large. Otherwise, we'll face the same thing again with these new trees in another 40-50 years.

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