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PORTLAND -- Crews on Friday cut down the 12-story sequoia tree that was the center of a controversy over a city trail project.

The tree will be re-purposed and turned into a nature playground, according to Mark Ross with Portland Parks &Recreation.

A handful of protesters gathered around the giant sequoia Friday and police arrested activist Chris Fountain after she crossed yellow tape around the tree. She also was there Thursday, standing vigil by the tree.

The City of Portland cut down the giant sequoia in Pier Park, in order to make way for a pedestrian and bicycle greenway.

On Thursday, protesters crossed over caution tape and their presence halted the chopping down of the sequoia, along with other, less iconic trees close by. The tree will be used to build PP&R s first Nature Play area at Westmoreland Park.

It will help kids connect with nature, and provide a sustainable, natural playground in the first such endeavor across our system, Ross said, in a post on PP&R's Facebook page. We will mitigate the loss of the sequoia by planting seven giant sequoias in neighboring Chimney Park, where there are much fewer trees.

Photos:Neighbors rally to save tree

Neighbors in Portland's St. Johns area battled the city plan for several days. Park visitors also pinned up a little memorial on the tree s trunk asking the city to reconsider.

The tree at the center of the controversy was a giant sequoia that stood about 120 feet tall and measured 18 feet around. It was one of a couple dozen giant sequoias in Pier Park, but the only one on the chopping block.

The city is building a ten-mile long pedestrian and bike trail called the North Portland Greenway. Once completed, the trail will connect North Portland to downtown. Plans call for a bridge to be built over a set of railroad tracks, and according to the city, that sequoia tree was in the way.

The city said it looked at several alternatives and decided that removing this one tree was the best option.

The only way to do this trail, which is going to be a valuable connector for the city going forward, is to take care of this tree instead of several other ones in its place, said Ross.

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