Table of Contents:   


Natural Environment


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Portland’s beautiful natural environment is a heritage we must protect.

Section Summary

The natural environment is often cited as the aspect people appreciate most about Portland and its surroundings. Portlanders find that the natural environment provides opportunities for people, including families with children, to build a sense of community.

People express the need to preserve and restore natural areas, parks, forests wildlife areas and rivers, with particular attention paid to offering underserved neighborhoods the same outdoor benefits as others. According to many, individual responsibility is essential to keeping the natural environment intact. Respondents mention reducing automobile commutes and employing energy saving measures in homes as the types of personal choices that will be necessary to preserve the environment. Portlanders also believe the future protection of our city’s natural environment must involve work with regional governments and partners.

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. Portlanders deeply value the environment.
  2. Trees, forests and greenery must remain central to Portland’s landscape.
  3. The natural environments that exist today must be preserved for future generations.


  1. Portlanders deeply value the environment.
  • The natural environment is frequently mentioned as the element that makes Portland unique from other cities.
  • Portlanders appreciate the close proximity of the natural environment to residential areas, within the city and bordering the city.
  • Respondents talk about the park systems in neighborhoods, the abundance of trees lining streets and accessible urban forests (see Urban Livability: Parks and Open Spaces).
  • Some respondents envision the future Portland as having even more natural environments integrated with the urban landscape.
"[In 2030] The MAX has encouraged urban nodes into the valley and hills, but zoning has preserved green spaces and parks with walkable paths, river access.”

  1. Trees, forests and greenery must remain central to Portland’s landscape.
  • Plant more trees in urban areas and neighborhoods.
  • There should be special attention given to tree and green space development as well as protection in underserved neighborhoods.
  • People want to see more trees lining streets and in sitting areas.
  • Increase green roofs, green spaces and parks.
"…Please, plant more trees. Build more parks.”

"I would also like to see more bike lanes on major streets, more parks, and more running trails inside the city, and more beautification of the city with plants, shrubs, and trees.”

“More trees and community gardens in neighborhoods, especially poorer neighborhoods.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. The City should work with other regional governments and jurisdictions to protect natural resources.
  2. Zoning codes should allow for more community gardens.
  3. Stop the use of pesticides in public spaces such as parks.
  4. “Plant trees in all parking strips and freeway side areas.”

  1. The natural environments that exist today must be preserved for future generations.
  • Individuals will have a large responsibility to maintain the city’s natural environment.
    • People should help preserve public and private greenspaces.
  • There needs to be a regional approach to protecting the natural environment in the Portland metro area by working closely with jurisdictions and organizations.
  • Portlanders express concern and resentment over trees getting cut down, especially older trees that are cut down to make way for the following:
    • Widening roads;
    • Building condominiums;
    • New trees or landscaping; and
    • Expanding light rail systems.
  • Policies should reflect the interest of constituents to sustain the natural environment.
  • Some respondents feel that Portland should keep the urban growth boundary intact and only develop within the confines of that area.
  • Both enhance and preserve the remaining natural areas, trees in neighborhoods and lining streets, parks, gardens and rivers.
  • Preserve parks that are considered “wild spaces” like Forest Park, Mt. Tabor and other areas.
[In 2030] “…I'd have light rail from downtown Portland to OCC to Oregon City, either traveling down McGlaughlin (without taking out the trees) or down 82nd avenue, to Oregon City.”

"Fund park maintenance and improvements in park deficient areas. Keep parts of the city 'wild,' and work with regional partners to leverage services.”

"…Protect, fund, and restore greenspaces, watersheds, wildlife corridors, and agricultural land.”

“More investments in environmental protection/clean rivers/healthy fish and wildlife—less development-based marketing.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. Eliminate weeds and plants that threaten the native vegetation of forests and parks.
  2. Require developers to preserve trees when possible at new construction sites.
  3. There should be a program that promotes the preservation of tall trees to sustain urban animal wildlife.


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