The approximately 813 trees that will be removed in West Portland to accommodate construction of a new bridge and interchange will go to the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
The Sellwood Bridge is located on the tribe’s ancestral homeland, so Multnomah County approached the tribes about receiving the trees under the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855. The treaty gives the tribes the right to harvest natural resources on both reservation and ceded lands.
The Grand Ronde people typically trek high into the mountains of the forest to cut down Oregon’s yew trees for use as medicine and strip the bark from cedar trees to make traditional items such as bows, arrows, canoes and baskets, reported KoinLocal6.com. Now the trees will be delivered to them.
“It’s really important, especially for our tribal membership that lives up here in the Portland area,” Greg Archuleta, a descendent of the Clackamas Chinook, told KoinLocal6.com. The Chinook lived in the area where Sellwood Bridge is being rebuilt before being relocated to Grand Ronde and becoming a part of the Confederated Tribes. “[It’s a] very urban area, so it’s not easy to get access to these kinds of materials.”
The construction project website SellwoodBridge.org notes the majority of the trees will be cleared in April 2012. The trees are being removed from property owned by the city and Riverview Cemetery. Multnomah County spokesperson Mike Pullen told KoinLocal6.com that this is the first time the treaty has been used to designate the use of trees in the Portland metropolitan area.
While the Grande Ronde will receive “several” trees, states SellwoodBridge.org, the smaller ones will be chipped for mulch to help with replantng trees onsite, when the time comes, and in other landscaping locations. For trees along the Willamette River, the stumps and roots will remain intact to keep the ground stable until a reinforcement wall is put in place, the local news station reported.
The $267 million bridge will be completed in 2015, reported KoinLocal6.com.