By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: It's time to chop downtown trees

Part 2 of a recent column about McMinnville trees begins with a provokement: It’s time to start aggressively removing trees in downtown McMinnville.

Astonishing? Outrageous? If so, you haven’t been paying attention. An extended public planning process has produced a decision to remove and replace most trees in a downtown renovation project that could begin as early as 2026.

More on that below. Meanwhile, McMinnville citizens should pay more attention to 3,400 words in the city’s tree ordinance. For example:

“17.58.040 Tree Removal/Replacement. The removal or major pruning of a tree, if applicable … shall require City approval, unless specifically designated as exempt by this ordinance.”

That law applies to significant or historic trees; trees with trunks even partially within any public area or right-of-way; trees on private property that impact public infrastructure (sewer, water mains, sidewalks, streets, public property or clear vision at intersections); trees on developable land subject to or undergoing development review.

You can’t top or chop down a dying tree without city approval, but you have to repair heaving sidewalks damaged by the roots of those trees.

Back to downtown and this city code: “The pruning and removal of street trees within the Downtown Tree Zone shall be the responsibility of the City, and shall be undertaken at public expense.” That zone is bounded north-south by First and Fifth streets, and east-west by Johnson and Adams streets.

Repeating from the Part 1 column: “Public officials and expert arborists have determined that most Third Street trees must be removed.”

Given the tendency of people to forget things, imagine the public outrage if that deforestation project happens all at once in three years. Better to begin now with an extensive, very public, selective removal process throughout the downtown, with each tree extraction reminding people of what’s to come, and why.

To that end, I’d like to volunteer one or more of the giant trees outside former News-Register offices on Third Street between Ford and Galloway. Huge trunks block sidewalk access and building visibility; in recent years, storm-blown leaves clogged roof drains, doing $60,000 in computer room damages; they are a safety hazard that should qualify them for early removal.

Every step of a selective downtown logging project should focus maximum public attention on fine-tuning the best possible landscaping and streetscaping plans for the future. Along the way, the area badly needs ongoing streetscape maintenance to improve our current downtown ambiance.

Let the chopping begin.

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


Don Dix

Where is 'Third Street Logging' when you need him?

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