Washougal temporarily closes Mable Kerr Park

City leaders hire arborist after fallen tree lands near pedestrian trail

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The city of Washougal has temporarily closed Mable Kerr Park after a resident reported a fallen tree near a pedestrian trail.

“They were walking the trail and heard a tree fall in the distance, and so obviously we responded accordingly with precaution,” said Trevor Evers, the Washougal’s director of public works. “(Injuries are the) worst case scenario. We don’t want people getting hurt.”

The City has arranged for an arborist to assess the park’s trees and determine next steps, Evers said.

“We’re just waiting for that arborist report, and we’ll know much more about the details, if there are trees that need to be mitigated (or) are high-risk, where they are at, what it’s going to take to mitigate (them), and of course the cost associated with that,” Evers said. “We’ll know more probably (the week of) Sept. 25, about the status of the trees and if they need to be removed or fell.”

Washougal City Councilman Ernie Suggs thanked Evers and the public works department for their response to the “possible dangers” presented by the park’s “dead trees” during a City Council meeting held Sept. 11.

“Two years ago, we had that heatwave that killed a lot of the trees, and now they’re starting to fall,” Suggs said. “They are (not far from the) trail and some other (popular) areas. It was brought to my attention by my daughter, who has some children that were picking berries out there in the field (one day), and they came back about 10 minutes later (and saw that) a tree fell right where they were picking the berries.”

Evers told The Post-Record he “couldn’t comment” about Suggs’ contention that heat caused the fallen tree to die.

“I’d have to ask the arborist,” he said. “(Suggs’ explanation) probably sounds accurate anecdotally, but I need to get the arborist report and just make sure if we do have some dead trees that are close proximity to the trail and are more high risk, we address those.”

Evers said the City plans to reopen the park, located at 4600 Gifford Place, “as soon as possible.”

“Our intentions are to get it opened back up,” he said. “(Its) trail is pretty frequently used, especially from the Gifford-Liedtke neighborhood close to 45th Court, because it makes its way to Sunset View Road south of Orchard Hills Golf Course. We want to get it open, but we’ll make sure that we’re doing all the right things (to make sure it’s safe).”

Evers also said he doesn’t expect to deal with a similar situation at any of the City’s other parks.

“In East Clark County, we get the Gorge winds from the east, and we have storms and inclement weather, (so) branches and trees go down all the time,” he said. “That wasn’t the case for this specific park. This one’s a little bit more unique with the species of trees, so that’s probably going to be part of the arborist report as well. I don’t anticipate closing other parks and losing trees short of inclement weather and things that are kind of out of our control.”