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Rooted in Happy Valley

Taking care of our City’s park trees

THIS FALL, THE CITY WILL COMMENCE A SPECIAL PROJECT THAT WILL HELP PRESERVE EXISTING TREES IN HAPPY VALLEY PARK AND IMPROVE THE PARK’S TREE CANOPY FOR YEARS TO COME. THE PROJECT WILL INCLUDE THE REMOVAL OF SELECT TREES AND REPLANTING EFFORTS AIMED AT PROMOTING LONG TERM GROWTH.  THE FOLLOWING IS SOME HELPFUL INFORMATION THAT FURTHER EXPLAINS THE DETAILS AND REASONING FOR THE PROJECT.

Why are some trees in Happy Valley Park being removed?
Keeping parklands usable and healthy is important to the City of Happy Valley. In 2018, a survey conducted by the City’s contracted Arborist was carried out in Happy Valley Park for the first time to officially evaluate the trees and assess their overall health. The evaluation offered opportunity to address areas that were doing well, but also identified trees that had been injured, were at risk of rapid decline and deterioration, or possessed compromised footings or branching structures. As a result of the survey, approximately 30 trees were identified as critically in need of being prioritized for removal.

Any way the identified trees can be treated instead of removed?
The trees being removed are presenting with severe damage, some of which was sustained from a snowstorm that occurred 10 years ago.  The damage made the trees bend and become misshapen at a structural level. Unfortunately, this type of damage cannot be remedied and now poses a threat to public safety. When available, management options such as pruning or treating a damaged tree are always pursued first, but in some cases, tree removal is ultimately recommended as the best option. Deceased, dying and otherwise hazardous trees can lead to personal injury if they fall unexpectedly or are knocked over during a subsequent storm. In the case of disease, affected trees can spread illness to nearby healthy trees, causing widespread ailment to even more trees. In cases like these, tree removal is a prescribed intervention that helps promote long term sustainability and increases the survival likelihood of surrounding trees that are doing well.

Which trees are being removed?
Most of the trees selected for removal are in the south end of the Park, nearest the dog runs. The others are located near picnic shelters A and B. Visitors will notice these select trees to be marked with a tag. The corresponding graphic further illustrates the locations of identified trees.

Will the Park be closed while work is happening?
The City will not need to close the Park while tree removals are occurring. There will be signs alerting visitors of the work and corresponding areas will be sectioned off to ensure safety while the trees are being removed. This will temporarily affect some pathways, but the City will re-route where appropriate to limit any interruptions.

When will tree removals take place and how long will it take?
Work is slated to begin in October 2020 and is anticipated to take between one to two months. Some of this work will be weather dependent. Should any changes be made to this anticipated schedule, the City will update this webpage as appropriate.

Will the trees be replaced?
Yes! The City is committed to replenishing the tree canopy and is working closely with the contracted Arborist to maximize replanting efforts. To this end, locations for replanting will focus on areas in the Park that offer a conducive environment for new trees to thrive and make it to maturity. Designs have been completed to create cohesive plant communities that support both new and long-term tree growth, and species selected will not only be beneficial to wildlife but will take into consideration the needs of the climate. It should further be noted that soil preparation work will also be carried out as part of these replanting efforts. This will help extend the water and nutrient capacity of the soil, reduce long-term soil compaction, and allow plant roots to strengthen and thrive.

How will this project affect the Park’s future?
Trees play a vital role in our ecosystem. They contribute to cleaning the air, controlling storm water, and they provide shade and give life to people and much of the local wildlife. In open spaces, such as Happy Valley Park, trees also create an aesthetically pleasing landscape and complement the recreational activities offered. By taking care of the Park trees, the tree canopy will be able to flourish and continue to provide these great benefits for future generations. As we move forward, the City’s contracted Arborist will be conducting more routine tree assessments in the Park and will be helping the City further diversify the tree canopy through replanting efforts that are in the best interest of the environment. It should be noted here that there are additional trees that will need to be removed based on the 2018 survey that was completed. The City and contracted Arborist, however, are committed to always intervening in a planful way and ensuring changes are well thought out and for the benefit of all trees involved.

What are some other ways the City prioritizes trees?
The City has a robust tree replacement requirement and tree permits are required for any type of tree removal. Additionally, the City requires land developers complete a Planned Unit Development (PUD) if more than 10% of the site is in environmentally constrained areas. This guarantees adequate open spaces remain available which in turn results in more preservation of natural areas compared to traditional subdivisions found in other cities. The City also spends $2.99 per capita on urban forestry. Things like tree pruning, tree maintenance, plantings, and removal of hazardous trees on City property are covered by these funds. These efforts not only ensure cleaner air and promote a healthy ecosystem, but they boost property values and help support the economic future of the City. As a recognized Tree City USA, Happy Valley is truly committed to ensuring the City’s tree canopy remains healthy and strong.

Questions or concerns about the project? Contact our Public Works Department at 503-783-3800.