Skip to Content

BPRD responds to critics, vows to save every Drake Park tree it can

Nancy Beaver ribbon Drake Park tree 2-23
Submitted photo
Nancy Boever gently taps in a tack to hold a green ribbon onto a Ponderosa pine tree in Bend's Drake Park, one of several an informal group hope to see saved from a trail project.

Also acknowledges removing green ribbons placed as protest

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bend Park and Recreation District acknowledged Monday it removed green ribbons and tags wrapped around about a dozen of the three dozen trees in Drake Park that may be removed from a trail upgrade project.

However, park district Executive Director Don Horton also issued a statement promising to save every tree they can.

"Per park rules, we don’t allow items to be posted or left unattended in parks, so they were removed," park district spokeswoman Julie Brown said Monday. "We are always willing to have conversations with community members and respect expressions of concern by individuals and groups."

"We will work as hard as we can during construction to save as many trees slated for removal.  We do believe that some of these trees will be spared," Brown added.

Here's Horton's statement, in full:

"The Bend Park and Recreation District cares deeply about the natural beauty in its parks, trails and surrounding facilities, and we are committed to preserving as many trees as possible.

"The Drake Park bank and trail project will retain the character of the park while also improving accessibility and safety with modern design standards. We acknowledge the passion of community members related to Drake Park and appreciate hearing from individuals.

"We believe the project plan is the best way to retain the historic character of the park and make a trail/pathway that is accessible to all. We have spent a couple years working with certified arborists and landscape architects on the trail alignment to reduce impacts to mature trees.

"The number of trees permitted for possible removal is a small number of the 400+ trees currently in Drake Park. See attached for color-coding plans for trees to be protected, unimpacted, and those that may be removed.

"For the permit, it’s necessary to list all trees that may be impacted, rather than returning for case-by-case tree removal permission that would cause significant delays and costs during construction. However, we will work as hard as we can during construction to save as many trees slated for removal as we can.  We do believe that some of these trees will be spared.

"With the grade changes necessary to meet ADA accessibility requirements (and) slope, it is not possible to curve around all trees. The trail expansion is also necessary for pedestrians, bicycles, strollers, wheelchairs and other modes of trail use. Because of the grading necessary to meet the ADA grade, it is difficult to work around some of the larger trees. In some cases, we will be constructing retaining walls in order to meet these grade requirements.

"It’s important to know that there are more than 60 mature trees in the park prioritized for protection efforts along the trail and five times the number outside of the project area. I encourage you to learn more about the project at:

Don Horton

Executive Director"


Earlier story:

Trees on which ribbons were placed Saturday included a giant Ponderosa pine that is more than 10 feet in circumference.

It was no advance St. Patrick’s Day event, but citizen activism to save trees currently in the way of a planned 10-foot wide paved trail by Mirror Pond, the plan's critics said in a news release Sunday, which continues below.

The eight women said they are unaffiliated with any group and decided to take action, after the (Bend) Planning Commission approved the Bend Parks and Recreation District’s $6.6 million plan for projects in Drake and Pacific parks.

The messages on the ribbons stated, “Don’t cut me down. Go around.”  A tag gives more information about the trail and asks to honor the trees, get creative, and find a way for both a new trail and leaving the iconic trees stand, with the email address for Bend Mayor Sally Russell.

Their point? The city should mark all the three dozen trees that might be removed, invite the public to weigh in on the new trail, and come up with citizen-generated creative solutions that would save what makes Drake Park special.

Simply putting forward written plans makes it difficult for people to see the actual trees that could come down. What is likely to happen, the women say, is that when the parks department starts felling them, then there will be outrage -- after it’s too late to change course.

The women said they are in favor of many aspects of the new recreation plan that includes restoring riparian habitat.

"The part that is irreconcilable is the insistence on keeping the planned trail design close to Mirror Pond’s edge and barreling through standing trees, rather than going around them," their statement said.

"Why not create a winding pathway designed to slow people down, and showcase the trees that make Drake Park special? Trees should become the focus, not the obstacle."

The park district has said it plans to plant a roughly equal number of Ponderosa pines as part of the project. But Marina Richie, a member of the group, told NewsChannel 21 on Sunday that "cutting down big, mature trees and planting small saplings all of one species" is not acceptable.

"We don't oppose planting a few more pines, but not as a tradeoff," Richie said.

Richie said the ribbons were placed on the trees Saturday -- gently, using small tacks -- and they put three back on amid Sunday's winds (which coincidentally toppled a few tall trees elsewhere in Bend). But she said she returned to the park later to find the ribbons had been removed -- by whom, she doesn't know.

The bigger issue, the group said, is "how Bend values its elder trees, and the lack of a tree ordinance that gives priority to protecting  long-standing trees that capture the most carbon, give the most shade, shelter the most wildlife, and make Bend a beautiful and livable city."

The women said people who want to comment on the Drake Park trees and the new trail should contact both Mayor Russell and park board members (each personally via email) to share their concerns at:

KTVZ news sources



  1. Putting the signs on the trees is littering and should be removed. Asphalt trails are petroleum-based and something more environmentally safer needs to be used. If these people want those trees saved, pay up for the extra monies that will need to be spent to rework everything dealing with these trees. How many of these people are licensed foresters and know what is going on with the trees anyway?

  2. Kudos to these ladies the very thought of these beautiful trees which are a symbol of the history of Bend as it use to be being cut down to make another “improvement ” to the walking trail is totally uncalled for ! The City leaders won’t be happy until they remove every piece of the quaint logging town that Bend was. The very thing that attracted out of state pilgrims to Bend they want to destroy to make some walking path to make it easier for tourists to have a nicer walk by our beautiful river.

      1. Really the mills have not been running for over 20 years the pilgrims I am talking about are the ones that have massively migrated to Bend which has been in the last 20 due to all the wonderful recreation and parks which has been funded by the home owners property taxes which go up every year to build more parks. schools and recreation. We no longer have the mills to employ people we rely on construction to keep up with the massive influx of people moving here and tourism industry which is destroying the quality of life in Bend with traffic gridlock and tearing up the land to build more houses and apartments. Bottom line is we need to spend money on infrastructure to accommodate the masses that have moved here not spending money cutting down tress and building a multi-million dollar walking path !!

  3. The trees have been here way before Bend was even a town and before settlers came here, and now because the trees inconvenience some human, they want them cut down!!!? If people do not like the trees, leave and move elsewhere were nature will not inconvenience you.

    1. Some of the big trees for sure, but in reality most tress in the region are replanted from loggers. Which I always find to be very funny. People fighting against the timber industry, trying to protect forest that the timber idustry planted after cutting back in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.

      1. Yes, many trees in the region are transplants. I know this working for the USFS for many decades, but the ones at the park are not transplants. So sorry, those trees are much older than the time dates which you have given. It is like comparing apples to oranges. Anyway, we are talking about the trees in Drake Park, and not the rest of Central Oregon.

  4. Talking about a trail here. Build the trail around the trees! I really suspect a winding path does not fit what bicyclists and skate boarders want. Actually, probably runners also. Really would like to hear why the trees have to come down. Ten foot wide path!?

  5. High stump ’em and carve giant beer bottles out of them, then run the trees thru a chipper. build the trail and put the chips on it. That way, the trees still stay in the park, everybody gets a nice cushy environmentally friendly path surface, and enjoy the artwork that represents all the beer made from the river

  6. Damn trees are always in our way!! I thought Park’s and Rec. helps preserve trees and créate parks not tear them down for a 10-ft wide paved path. I think Park’s & Rec. needs to go back to the drawing board to find another solution for a trail that doesn’t involve eliminating a beautiful park used by many for slack lining, relaxing in the shade. Cutting down 12 trees is almost the entire park. The city chopped down beautiful old growth trees by McKay Park to put in the septic system. More trees are coming down everyday for a Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks. Enough already!

  7. Hanging stuff from tree’s in a public park is littering and anyone is well with in their right to take that trash down off the trees. Just like those stupid road side memorials, nothing but a eye sore.

  8. ” long-standing trees that capture the most carbon” – comment suggests someone doesn’t understand big trees as much as they would like us to believe – when a big tree matures and crowns out it quits taking carbon.

    1. Even Junipers? How about nonindigenous trees? Who establishes the criteria for the trees to be designated? What if they are privately owned trees? Who is liable for damages from a heritage tree falling over?

  9. Everyone up in a tizzy over these big trees yet older trees are being cut down and removed every day in central Oregon for houses, driveways, roads and as firewood, so what is the big deal here, just more visual? Nope, The problem is these are Ponderosa Pine and the older trees are Juniper’s.

  10. Bend is a city still growing up. P&R has a master plan and it is a good one to leave our kids. No one wants to cut down any tree let alone a heritage tree but sometimes it has to happen. I have actually sued someone for cutting trees and work within the forest industry and with developers to limit the human impact, but humans are here so best we make Bend an amazing city to live the outdoor life but it takes work. Short sighted people being reactionary to the situation should think about what took place to 20 years ago to change this city into one they now enjoy. Now we are doing our part and planning for future generations.

  11. So much irony here! most of the people complaining live in houses that were built with 1st and 2nd growth lumber and trees were removed so they could build it, but that’s okay and removing a few trees for trails is not? If you wanted to save trees you shouldn’t have bought your house in the first place! No ones house is built on land that didn’t once have a tree on it in this town!

Leave a Reply

Skip to content