Police arrested a woman for trespassing at Pier Park today during a protest over the removal of a giant sequoia tree.
A band of caution tape roped off protesters from the city forestry crew that was limbing the 120-foot sequoia, and a half-dozen police officers stood on guard. The tree is being removed to make way for a pedestrian bridge that will be part of a 10-mile North Portland Greenway Trail. A woman who went inside the work area was arrested for trespassing, according to Mark Ross, spokesman for the Portland Department of Parks and Recreation.
The pedestrian bridge will reach over a set of railroad tracks that separate Pier Park from Chimney Park in the St. Johns neighborhood. It will be part of a bike and pedestrian trail network linking North Portland with downtown.
"I never dreamed they would even consider taking one of these trees down," said Joanie Beldin, who lives next to the park. Beldin choked back tears as she watched the tree's limbs fall to the ground. "There are 30 sequoia trees in this grove, and it's unique in Portland. It's is my favorite part of the park."
Ross said the trail project went through a public decisionmaking process, and that the Friends of Pier Park and the St. Johns Neighborhood Association have both supported the bridge design. Other options for the bridge would have involved taking out more trees.
"We've worked very hard to make sure this is the best and only alternative," he said. "I'm glad people care so much about nature and the environment, and so do we. We take the removal of trees very seriously."
The tree is going to be incorporated into the Westmoreland Park Nature Play Park, Ross said, and additional trees will be planted along the trail nearby.