Neighbors fight to save tree: 'It deserves to live'

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Neighbors are putting up a fight to save the tree they call the Portland Paradox Walnut Tree.

The Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association got wind of a developer's plans to build on the lot where the tree now stands. Neighbors are asking for time to talk this over and try to find a compromise to allow for new housing around the tree. The development includes new row homes near Southeast 50th Avenue and Mill Street.

"If this tree could talk what would it say," said neighbor Margreit Hecht. "'What a crime it would be if you cut me down'."

Hecht has been on the phone with everyone who will listen and help keep the tree alive.

Botanists say the tree is one of a kind, the only Paradox Walnut tree in Portland. It's a giant. The trunk's circumference is 15 feet.

Arborist Kevin Hillery says it was a type of tree created by Luther Burbank, a botanist who was also responsible for the russet potato.

"He crossed a black walnut with an English walnut in order to make a Paradox walnut which has more dense wood more disease resistant," Hillery said.

KATU called the developer and will update this story when the developer responds.

Neighbors have been in contact with the developer and say they plan to meet within the next few days to discuss a compromise.

"It's an old tree. It deserves to live," said Hecht. "If it could write history, it could write the history of Portland."