The Institute is active in advancing local urban forestry program capacity, as well as conserving biodiverse, at-risk native oak-prairie habitats.
Urban Forestry Initiative: Most cities across the region under-invest in urban forestry, and/or lack sufficient protections for urban trees. To address these deficiencies UGI is launching a new urban forestry initiative to augment local government urban forestry programs and guide future investments and policy reform. In Portland, we are seeking improvements to the Title 11 Tree Code and new financing for street tree planting and maintenance. UGI is helping augment and expand the ongoing Healthy Gresham, Green Gresham collaborative established by Multnomah County, City of Gresham, and Friends of Trees. In addition, we are seeking opportunities to jump-start similar urban tree conservation collaborations in Clackamas and Washington counties, with a focus on underserved neighborhoods with low tree canopy cover.
Oak Prairie Working Group: Pacific Northwest oak and prairie habitats are among our most imperiled lowland ecosystems, and host more than 300 native endemic species – many of them threatened. Northwest oak-prairie ecosystems are among the most drought-tolerant, wildfire-resilient, and pollinator-rich native habitats. They harbor a diversity of Native American ‘first foods’ and are the bread-basket for Northwest Tribes. They are light-filled, colorful through the seasons, and include a varied plant palette that can integrate well with built environments. UGI has helped activate and rally regional partners for their conservation.
OakQuest and Oak Mapping: In 2014-2015 UGI spearheaded OakQuest, a community science effort to develop the first-ever map of imperiled Oregon white oak for the Portland metropolitan region and the whole of the Regional Conservation Strategy plan area. Through OakQuest, UGI built a partnership of over 30 organizations under the banner of the The Intertwine Alliance Oak Prairie Working Group and marshalled the efforts of over 200 community science volunteers. In 2015-18, UGI worked with Metro to complete the oak distribution map for the Oregon portion of the RCS. We are presently working with Clark Conservation District, WDFW and other partners to finish the oak map in southwest Washington by December 2019.
Oak Prairie Naturescaping: In 2015-16, UGI partnered with Mark Griswold Wilson to lead an oak-prairie naturescaping workshop for urban residential landowners in north Clackamas County. Through the workshop we trained 45 landowners and reached more than 200 other residents of oak-rich neighborhoods to educate them about the regional conservation priority that oak habitats represent. We developed a Conserving White Oak in Urban and Suburban Landscapes guide to help people implement oak-friendly landscaping practices in their yards. In 2020 we will anticipate sponsoring additional oak naturescaping workshops in collaboration with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Strategic Action Plan: In 2016-18 we convened conservation partners to develop the region’s first native oak-prairie conservation strategic action plan. With Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board support, UGI and partners are now updating the strategy to engage a broader array of partners and include an open standards approach that links up with other Oregon/Washington oak and prairie conservation partnerships and guides our work over the next 5-10 years.