As climate instability grows, we are becoming more aware of how important green infrastructure, like urban forests, is to creating a more climate-resilient city. For the past year, 350PDX’s Forest Defense Team has been engaging in urban forest defense, with a goal of growing shade equity – that is, increasing access to street trees and the life-saving cooler temperatures they provide during extreme heat events. Some Portland neighborhoods have been long neglected by city investments – particularly neighborhoods that were historically redlined and have higher numbers of BIPOC folks and people living on low incomes. As the climate crisis makes more events like the 2021 heat dome more frequent and extreme, it is more important than ever that everyone has access to live-saving shade.

As we’ve continued work on this campaign for equitable access to street trees, we’ve met many individuals and organizations that share this mission. Together, we’ve become the “Shade Equity Coalition.”

On Monday, the Forest Defense Team hosted a Shade Equity Social to bring together tree, ecology and climate people from across our city, and it was a great success! More than 70 folks mixed and mingled, shared and strategized, and enjoyed presentations from the Portland Fruit Tree Project, Trees for Life Oregon, East Portland Resilience Coalition, Friends of Trees, and Commissioner Dan Ryan, the newly minted commissioner for Urban Forestry.

We were thrilled to have folks from Urban Forestry, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) in attendance. All three city agencies have a role in supporting Portland’s urban forest, and it was great to have them in the same room, alongside advocates from across the city. 

Support the fight for equitable urban forests! Sign up for the public listening session on Feb 23.

We’re all eagerly awaiting the release of the Portland Clean Energy Fund’s (PCEF) proposed plan for spending $40 million on equitably growing the urban forest, which should be out any day now.

Originally scheduled for tonight, the public listening session about the new proposal has been moved to February 23rd. We encourage you to attend and voice your support for planting new trees and maintaining the existing tree canopy, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

Thank you for being a part of this work with us! Together, we will keep fighting until everyone – no matter where they live, what they look like, or their access to wealth – has access to live-saving shade.

For the forests,

Brenna Bell, 350PDX Climate Forest Manager