University of Oregon Tree Removal Permit Application


6/11/18 UPDATE: Tree Removal Permit Application #TRE-1806 was approved with conditions on June 8, 2018. The full letter of decision can be read here, including the criteria, summary of considerations and conditions for approval. If you would like more information or to speak with the urban forestry team, please contact us at 541-682-4800.

The information below is meant to provide additional information about the recently submitted tree removal permit application by the University of Oregon.

The University of Oregon applied to the City of Eugene on May 10, 2018 for a permit to remove 23 trees along Agate Street between 15th and 18th as required by City Code 6.300-6.330.

The full code can be read here. Below is a portion of that code.

6.320 Criteria for Permit Issuance

(1) The city manager or designee shall approve, approve with conditions, or deny a permit application based on consideration of the following criteria:

(a) The condition of the trees with respect to disease, hazardous or unsafe conditions, danger of falling, proximity to existing structures or proposed construction, or interference with utility services or pedestrian or vehicular traffic safety;

(b) The topography of the land and the effect of felling on erosion, soil retention, stability of earth, flow and character of surface waters and streams, protection of nearby trees and windbreaks;

(c) The effect the trees' removal has on the environmental quality of the area, including scenic and wildlife habitat values;

(d) The necessity to remove trees in order to construct proposed improvements, or to otherwise utilize the applicant's property in a manner consistent with its zoning, this code, the Metro Plan, and other applicable adopted plans;

(e) Fire safety considerations where, in the opinion of the fire marshal, removal is necessary to protect existing or proposed structures;

(f) The adequacy of the applicant's proposals, if any, to plant new trees or native vegetation to mitigate the environmental effects of removal of the trees to be felled; and

(g) That the felling would be compatible with generally accepted principles of horticulture, silvaculture, ecology, or landscape architecture;

(h) The compatibility of the felling with guidelines adopted by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

If the University of Oregon meets the code requirements for removal, the City does not have the legal authority to deny such a permit; the City does, however, have the authority to add conditions to the removal permit. These conditions could include:

  • Requiring payment of compensatory fees based on the trees’ appraised amenity values (not market value of wood) in order to pay for the replacement of trees. In this case the trees are valued at approximately $80,000 according to the Council of Landscape Appraisers Guide.
  • Adding conditions that specify the best species to plant for long term health, as well as the soil conditions the trees are planted in - which includes space for growth, quality and quantity of soil.

If the trees are removed, the ultimate goal would be that all trees are replaced by a healthy variety of trees that will be well adapted to our changing climate, they are planted in an area with the type of conditions that foster healthy growth, and they ultimately develop into large mature trees.

Although no decision has been made, based on the initial construction plans it appears that the critical root zones of some of the existing trees could be negatively impacted by work on the property. When one third of a critical root zone will be impacted, a tree is considered a loss or what’s called a technical felling by City Code. This means that although the tree has not been felled, it’s chance of long term survival is greatly reduced. The critical root zone for the larger trees along Agate extend approximately 35 to 40 feet out in a radius around the tree and under University of Oregon property.

As a requirement of this City Code, if more than 10 street trees are proposed for removal, the City must provide public notice. For this project, a mailer was sent out to addresses within a 200 foot radius and each tree was posted with information about the permit application requesting removal that also included how to provide feedback to the City. The postings were placed on Wednesday, May 16 and are required to be in place for a minimum of 15 calendar days.

The City received written public comment by email and mail for the code required 15 days which ended May 30. The City must make a decision within 30 days of the permit application date, which in this case would be by Friday, June 8.

Some of the trees in this row along Agate are missing because they succumbed to Dutch elm disease and were removed. Dutch elm disease, which wasn't around when these trees were planted approximately 80 years ago, can be exacerbated by climate change and drought stress.

Tree removal permit processing is a small part of the work of the City of Eugene’s Parks and Open Space Division’s urban forestry team. Their work is focused on caring for more than 100,000 of Eugene's street trees, planting new public trees and helping community members plant trees in their yards in partnership with the local nonprofit Friends of Trees, and ensuring a healthy urban forest into the future.