MILWAUKIE, Ore. Crews Monday were working to cut down some 300 trees along the route of the Milwaukie light rail project that paralles 99E, sparking a protest from some environmentalists.

The line will connect downtown Portland to Milwaukie, opening in fall of 2015.

TriMet officials said that many of the trees being cut down are in bad shape, on unstable ground and not native to the area. They added that the project also includes plans to plant new, healthy trees along the route, in large numbers.

We ve actually purchased the trees. They re growing now, so they will be larger than they are today and they re going to be native species used in the Northwest, explained TriMet spokeswoman Claudia Steinberg. There s going to be close to 800 trees replacing the 300 removed.

Still, some of the protesters said they don t feel confident the new trees will be of equal quality and value.

They can t plant a tree that s a 100-years old. They re going to plant a bunch of saplings, complained Gladstone resident and protester Libby Wentz. They won t plant them necessarily around here, but they ll still count it as part of the hundreds they ve re-planted, and most of them will die just like most of their vegetation does die.

TriMet s new Orange Line will link Portland and Milwaukie, becoming the sixth MAX line in the 60 mile system. The project was expected to create about 14,000 jobs between now and then.

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