Young tree left at tiny Portland park where 1 was stolen

PORTLAND — Was it remorse — or a tiny tree fairy? Portland parks officials say a Douglas Fir sapling resembling one stolen from a tiny Portland park has appeared at the 2-foot-diameter oasis.

Last week’s theft captured the city’s attention. On Wednesday, park staffers planted a replacement sapling to fill the hole left in the center of the park.

Parks officials say a passing driver posted a comment online Friday, noting that a young tree, roots and all, was lying on its side beside the replacement tree. The unidentified driver speculated that perhaps the “arborious criminal was feeling remorse.”

Parks Director Mike Abbate says if the latest tree is healthy, it will be planted in another city park.

Even if the thief returned the tree, Sgt. Pete Simpson says police will continue their investigation. In his words, “Remorse does not mean ‘case closed.’”

The tiny park lies in a median strip in downtown Portland near the Willamette River. It was established by newspaper columnist Dick Fagan in the 1940s and became an official city park in 1976.

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