Another Hospital Disaster…Urban Logging

As long as we’ve lived in Salem the darned hospital has been destroying, burning, and now logging land for more buildings, more parking.  The original hospital was in a residential neighborhood, near the university…a neighborhood we aspired to live in BUT, by the time we could buy a house, the neighborhood was gone for parking lots mostly.  A few of the oldest houses in Salem were used as practice burns by the fire department.  Then the absolutely lovely little Bush School was torn down for parking.

Next the beautiful and graceful 1920’s brick Building that housed the Blind School was razed.  The other day I noticed the chain link fence going up and a few days later the ominous blue plastic to hide the activities.   The several acre property is now an urban logging site with the plans to remove all but about 5 trees from this beautiful site…next to an historic neighborhood, an historic garden, across from Bush’s Pasture Park.  Sigh….if you love historic structures, old trees, history and the continuity of the built environment, Salem can be a disappointing place to live.


blue fence

blue fence 2

blue fence 3

future logging site

One neighbor created a shrine to the first cut tree.

shrine 1

shrine 2



  1. So sad! It is/was part of the ‘Historic’ area of Salem that is now being drained of the history. Sometimes I think the city has a ‘self’ destructive’ mechanism. I love the treet memorial, it is bitter-sweet.

  2. I remember the beautiful brick city hall with its tall clock tower and long steps up to the front doors. Still miss it. This is happening in Corvallis too. Wonderful old houses removed for university expansion or mega three story apartment complexes, destroying the history and livability of the city.

  3. I am simply sick about this. Any belief that this institution has even the slightest idea of what it is to care about the community or recognizes the benefits of nature has been wiped from my mind. I don’t like to use the word hate but I do hate Salem Hospital for being so unresponsive.

    They could have built that whole rehab place in the corner of Mission/Winter, putting parking underground or at least under the building. …….Must stop before my language becomes un-ladylike.

    1. Thanks Bonnie (and Karen) for putting into print that which so many of us are thinking. A high quality, first class blog – always.

  4. People should be depressed about this, because it IS depressing. I have to say the site was dead to me once they tore down the lovely and graceful brick building facing Mission…a building that should have been creatively repurposed…and so should Bush School. I had no idea they would cut down every tree (no, they are leaving the 5 white oaks, which probably won’t live through the heavy construction).

    Karen is right of course, they COULD have built the thing they want on the other side of the property….like every bad idea I’ve seen over these 45 years in Salem, this results from somebody’s “plan.” Once the “plan” is drawn those behind it push to build. One reason Roger Hull was an interesting preservationist is because his response to “plans” was always.”It seems to me though…”

  5. LUBA wont have their decision out for another week yet, but it seems the hospital must think they have some kind of go-ahead as they’ve already cut about 8 trees.

  6. What else is new? Our City has an interest in the area called Salem only to the degree they and their friends can profit from it’s use, misuse, this is no longer development, it’s mining! The canary died a while ago! ;((

  7. Thanks to all who remain engaged and vigilant regarding this latest atrocity.

    Here’s an optimistic note.

    In October I had the pleasure of joining some 75-80 people brought together by Tualatin Riverkeepers and The Intertwine. a regional alliance of 50-60 local governments and NGOs dedicated to urban forestry, access education, watershed conservation etc etc.

    The workshop updated us on progress in writing city code to protect urban forests. The City of Tigard completed a multi-year community effort that drafted an urban forestry code that received a national planning award. It went into effect last March.

    Patricia Farrell spoke at CityWatch several months ago. She is Salem’s Natural Resource Specialist and VERY involved in getting folks in Salem involved and engaged in protecting and expanding our urban forest. I’m glad I signed up for her emails they are “pro-tree” and very informative. Right now she and others are working hard to encourage us to share our ideas and wishes for the Minto Brown Island Park Master Plan. Please visit the site soon and offer your ideas!

    I hope everyone concerned about our trees will contact Patricia and ask to get on her email list: Patricia Farrell

    I’m also proud to announce our Salem CityWatch Chair, Kasia Quillinan was recently elected to chair the Salem Parks Board. She and David Engen, Salem CityWatch Treasurer, have been serving Salem parks for several years by serving on the Board, planting trees and much more.

    Salem tree code is SRC Chapter 86.005. Let’s transmute the outrage into meaning action. Many would welcome a community task force established to upgrade our tree code.

    Richard Reid

    1. What to do?? Maybe….Make sure the potential Salem Sustainability Commission gets heard and established. Start a petition to stop Salem Health’s egregious plans. Elect Councilors that have a commitment to urban environmental health and make sure sustainability and the environment are part of the “progressiveness” of the new Progressive Salem PAC/group. What about the Slender-Billed Nuthatches and the Western Gray Squirrels that were found there — are the Willamette student and/or professor able to do anything further? Demand a healthy community for all life here!

  8. So sad but true, our “Tree City,” is being ruined by a bunch of greedy, self-serving whore mongers. I loved that gorgeous brick building that they demolshed on their first go-round as well Bonnie. I thought they could do no more damage, but man, was i wrong. Saw the blue wall and just knew the real end was near.
    Also I dearly miss the old City Hall, Court House, Armory and Sacred Heart Academy. Such beautiful old buildings, and lovely old homes. Our heritage, our culture. GONE. Is there anything left to save?
    Thank you for the update and your wonderful blog.

  9. Jim Scheppke’s suggestion to visit this site!howard-hall/cgjf is a good one…lots of questions and answers.

    I would caution that our “world” here in Salem is ruled by the “tidy” (don’t forget the Chamber chair is the guy who cut down the trees at Ladd and Bush Bank and replanted… for a nice crisp look). Historic and texture doesn’t really enter in to the discussion for them. Progress matters. Notice which city council members are endorsed by the Chamber…(that would be all but one, in case you need that info).

    I think I, and many of you, live (and WANT to live) in an untidy, layered, textured world. We want to be aware of the fact that in our part of the world we STILL (in spite of the best efforts of the tidy) have visual remnants from settlement forward…not always visible in the east of our country.

    In the early 1990’s I was helping former state archivist David Duniway try to save the Wilson Durbin house at the riverfront…the oldest structure still standing on the original plat. We had fund raisers, we wrote grants…but it was a small, unremarkable house to many…and when it burned to the ground because homeless lit fires to keep warm INSIDE the house…I was devastated. Devastated. But David said the truest thing to me then…”don’t mourn the loss, just get started on the next thing to save.” And there is plenty to save in Salem. So I’ll start a new series in January called “Saving Salem”
    and welcome nominations…help me out. Happy New Year!

  10. In the discussion about trees in Salem — and of course not chopping down valuable trees is foremost — a mention might be made of another threat to our urban (and rural) forest — English Ivy. This invasive non-native vine kills trees and we have a rather serious infestation here in the Salem area (just drive down River Road South, for example, look along our many miles of streams and creeks in Salem, check out the sad shape the trees on the east end of the Railroad Foot Bridge downtown are in, and behind Fire Station #1).

    Consider checking out your neighborhood for this vine and working to get rid of it, and/or join the one of the volunteer crews that work in City parks. See schedule at — or contact the City if you would rather work on your own in City owned areas — help is always needed either way.

    Lastly, volunteers are great, but in the opinion of many, funds need to be allocated for Parks maintenance to work on invasives such as ivy on a regular basis. There is too much for volunteers to handle and there are many areas where volunteers can’t go — like steep slopes — professionals are required.

  11. Good news! Just learned yesterday that SCAN won the bulk of our appeal to LUBA. Haven’t seen the decision yet, but those who have say that LUBA found that the City was in the wrong to grant variances for too many parking spaces and to cut down significant Oregon White Oak trees. They are remanding the issue to the City hearings officer. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming days.

  12. Well, tree advocates- I shall join you again on the picket line tonight and each night this week. Statesman-Journal is locked after dark, as I discovered when I left Mission Street protest group last night fort the newspaper offices. Ms.Yoo, the reporter who is on the ‘health’ beat for SJ, received an earful from me this morning. While the SJ photographer showed up last night, and photos of a handful of citizens protesting at rush hour appeared on the front page – I did not find the word TREE used once in her article published today. Kudos for covering the lawsuit & harassing letter to the brave blind woman who is trying to save Howard Hall, Ms.Yoo. But, as you are the health correspondent, I invite you to think about the positive health effects 32 massive, old-growth native trees could have continued to provide the Salem community in their old age: cooling of Mill Creek which flows only half a block away, health for salmon in the Pacific Northwest, filtration of pollutants, air quality enhancement, and BEAUTY to name just a few! Not to mention, the health of future generations of our children, who breathe Salem air, who’d enjoy playing again in Salem streams, & who learn in elementary school the benefits of endangered species to loss of habitat! Oregon white oak – the massive old ones – contain an entire ecosystem in and beneath their branches. From many types of moss & lichens, to birds, insects & yes, the native squirrel population. If our own species do not pay more attention to habitat loss in our lifetime, you may be assured habitat for our OWN species on this fragile planet of ours will be at risk. And sooner than many citizens want to imagine! Join us in nightly protest, please, to show you are appalled by such public policy. And to the planners of Salem Hospital: planting a small memorial garden after the fact & a playground of adaptive equipment in place of the 32 beauties you cut down is hardly equivalent compensation. Show us where your true values lie! I for one, do not consider myself ‘healthy’ living in a city where landowners have rights to act so callously, with not foresight towards the future. -Kathleen A.Dennis
    Salem Plantings Coordinator, volunteer for Friends of Trees

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