Beavers, development, weather take toll on trees along Clackamas River
What a winter 2017 has turned out to be. In addition to its impact on school schedules, the bad weather has been hard on trees.
Jonathan Waverly, Oregon City parks manager, counted six trees that went down in the last storm, and three of those were in Barclay Park.
Meanwhile, lots of trees are being toppled in the area next to the Clackamas River Trail, another Oregon City park. As previously approved, the Clackamette Cove development that broke ground last summer removed about 383 trees throughout the master-plan site. Phase one of construction now underway includes a mixed-use complex of 244 apartments, two office buildings, 374 parking spaces, eight detached garages, a community center, a pool and a maintenance building.
Development didn't anticipate the antics of local beavers who have gnawed through about a dozen more trees in the past few weeks.
"Those beavers, when they say busy, that's an understatement," Waverly said.
Oregon City parks officials have placed chicken wire around the trees they think they can save from beavers. Waverly noted that Grand Cove LLC, the Clackamette Cove developer, will plant hundreds of trees.
Native trees and shrubs from the Oregon City Native Plant List will be planted at a rate of five trees and 25 shrubs per every 500 square feet of disturbance area. The total disturbance area for the Grand Cove project is approximately 47,243 square feet, which results in 472 trees and 2,362 shrubs to be planted.
"There will be no shortage of trees being planted back in. I do not believe their plan accounts for the trees impacted by beavers," Waverly said. "There will be a 10-acre park site that my department will be responsible for. This is where any of the beaver damage can be accounted for."
Clackamette Cove is a baylike extension of the Clackamas River that was created by former gravel mining operations in 1964. The cove is connected to the Clackamas River through a dredged channel located just upstream of the Willamette River confluence.
The area is seeing a return of wildlife. Much of the existing Grand Cove project site south and east of Clackamette Cove consists of vacant industrial lands formerly occupied by the Glacier Ready Mix Concrete Plant, which ceased operations in 2007 and vacated the site in 2008, when all associated buildings were demolished.
In replanting, Waverly said that the Oregon City parks officials follow the Planning Department's list of recommended trees, but they don't always replant on a two-for-one basis.
"Yes, we normally replace trees when we lose them in the parks," Waverly said. "We always follow Planning [Department] protocol for replanting and, yes, in most instances we do plant more trees than we lose. But this is not always the case."
Species are determined by the "right tree for the right place," Waverly said. Sometimes planting trees too closely together creates an unhealthy stand, because the trees don't get enough light. Parks staff will replant in most areas before the end of the rainy season, saving the volunteer efforts on Earth Day and Arbor Day in April for planting in irrigated areas.
"We will get trees planted sooner than later," Waverly said. "With the weather the way it is, planting is unpredictable at this time."