Editors Note: The following Op-Ed is an opinion piece by landowner and longtime resident Evan Bryan. The Herald thanks Evan for sending the story of the 300-year-old majestic Oak that is slated for the buzz saw out on the East Tualatin Plains – North of Evergreen Road. These are Evan’s opinions and it appears they are shared by many in the Hillsboro Community.
By Evan Bryan: As a native Oregonian, I very much value our state’s bountiful natural resources. They fuel our
homes, power our economy, provide recreation, and give us pause as we navigate our
increasingly complex world. Unfortunately, many of Oregon’s unique traits are hanging on by a
thread due to unprecedented population growth. One of these unique natural wonders is the
Oregon White Oak. These Oaks can live to be hundreds of years old and were once found
throughout the Willamette Valley. According to the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation
District, 95% of white oak habitats have been destroyed. As Oregonians, we cannot let these
majestic trees disappear.
Recently, it was brought to my attention that one of these historic white oaks was in line to be cut
down to make way for an ‘interim road’ in an industrial area north of Hillsboro. As a longtime
resident of the area, this was concerning to me. I contacted the City Manager’s office and they
agreed to look into it. A week later, I received a response from Hillsboro’s Capital and
Development Division Manager who told me that the tree cannot be saved. What’s most
upsetting is that the manager told me that building the road around the tree would “limit the
ability of that property for future development.” That is not the ‘Oregon Way’ and certainly not a
mentality that an Oregon government should have.
I was told by the City of Hillsboro that they plan to “mitigate” the loss of this tree by planting
new ones at a nearby city-owned property. While they agree that it is truly an amazing feat of
nature, it must be cut down to make way for “progress.” I pointed out that Hillsboro has been
recognized as a Tree City USA by The Arbor Day Foundation. Unfortunately, that is interpreted
as a mitigation tool and not necessarily as a call to protect historic trees or botanical heritage. It
all comes down to cost according to the city. Well, at what cost does it take before we realize the
importance of environmental preservation and protection?
I agree that economic development is important for Oregon and the ‘Silicon Forest,’ but I would
suggest that we start saving some of the forest before it becomes the ‘Silicon Plain.’ We simply
cannot pave over Oregon’s history and natural identity for a data center or corporate facility with
no regional ties. It’s time we preserve and protect the Oregon we know and love.
Not many communities can claim to have trees that were shading ground before the United
States was even a country. Historic oaks such as the Five Oaks north of Hillsboro were spared
from the chainsaw and incorporated into the surrounding development over two decades ago.
Today, Oregonians and tourists can visit the site and learn how the Atfalati tribe used to camp
there or how Joe Meek and early explorers used the trees as landmarks while they explored the
The reality is that values cannot be mitigated. Oregon is undergoing a time of unprecedented
change. While change can be good, we must remember the words of former Governor Tom
“The interests of Oregon for today and in the future must be protected from the grasping
wastrels of the land. We must respect another truism – that unlimited and unregulated growth,
leads inexorably to a lowered quality of life.”
Those words could not be truer today. Oregon’s natural integrity must be protected.
Evan Bryan is a farmer north of Hillsboro and a longtime Legislative Aide in Oregon and Washington, DC.
Do you have an opinion on a local issue and want to have your voice heard? Well, send us an opinion piece like Evan did and join the growing community of local Hillsboro area residents who are covering stories for the paper.