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Oregon Capitol's Famous Cherry Trees May Get the Ax

State officials say the trees' roots might be causing damage to the roof of the underground parking structure below.

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 2:08 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The famous flowering cherry trees that bloom each spring in front of Oregon's Capitol may get the ax.

State officials say the trees' roots might be causing damage to the roof of the underground parking structure below and if so, the trees will need to be removed, The Statesman Journal reported Monday.

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services has hired a consultant to find out for sure and officials hope to have an answer by February, the newspaper said.

The double row of cherry trees has lined the mall since 1991, when the strip was excavated for the 1,200-space underground parking structure.

Each spring, the trees come into bloom and shower pink petals down on the mall, delighting residents and visitors.

The blooms were the inspiration for Cherry Blossom Day at the Capitol and honor the state's cherry industry and the role of Japanese culture in Oregon.

The mall is part of State Capitol State Park, which also includes Willson Park on the west side of the Capitol and Capitol Park on the east side of the building.

State Capitol State Park became a new state park in 2008 and has since been managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

There are only 24 inches of soil between the park surface and the parking structure roof, park manager Kevin Strandberg said.

"For trees, as they get larger, they need to have deeper and deeper root growth," Strandberg said. "It was only a matter of time until they would have to do some replacement of this landscape planting."

If trees need to be removed, the Department of Administrative Services would be responsible for replacing them, he said.

But the replacements would be small trees that would mature slowly over time.

State officials have been dealing with leaks in the parking structure for several years, Craig said.

The study, which is expected to cost about $200,000, also will examine whether the waterproofing membrane or the storm-water runoff system have failed and will also assess the structural integrity of the building.

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