Take Action – Urge Legislators to Pass HB 1099 to respond to the Climate Crisis!

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

The Washington State Legislature is considering legislation to address climate change as a required goal in revising the Washington State Growth Management Act. HB 1099 would require cities and counties in their comprehensive planning process to address climate resiliency and mitigation as well as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled. We are asking that they adopt this much needed legislation.

HB 1099 is currently in the House Environment and Energy Committee. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021 at 8 AM. At a subsequent meeting, not yet scheduled, the Committee can go into executive session to vote on the bill.

We are asking that the Committee amend HB 1099 to add the words “urban and community forests” to the text of the bill in the environment, land use and climate resilience goals. We urge they vote to adopt the bill and send it to the House Rules Committee to be voted on by the full House.

Identifying and protecting urban and community forests is a vital component in increasing climate resiliency and mitigation. Our urban and community forests function to protect public health, reduce heat island effects, reduce energy use for heating and cooling, mitigate air and water pollution, and address environmental inequities.

We have prepared a pre-written letter that you can add your own comments to and quickly e-mail to the House Environment and Energy Committee members to urge they amend and pass this legislation.



2021 Update – Washington State Evergreen Communities Act

Update: Evergreen Communities Act


The Evergreen Communities Act (ECA) is landmark legislation for urban forestry in Washington that was passed in 2008, thanks to support from the Washington Community Forestry Council and coalition of stakeholders from across the state.

The intent is to provide funding for communities to perform tree inventories, canopy analyses and develop urban forest management plans based on those types of resource assessments. The ECA also helped provide guidance for development of urban forestry ordinances and policies and established new criteria for an “Evergreen Community” recognition program that goes above and beyond requirements for the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program.

Unfortunately, the economic fallout from the housing crisis and great recession swept all of the funding from the ECA in 2009. The ECA remains on the books but has not received funding since that time.

DNR revised and resubmitted the ECA in last year’s 2020 legislative session. The new ECA included new language that supports salmon recovery, human health and environmental justice in communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The bill was well-received and garnered a lot of bi-partisan support. It probably would have passed, but as COVID-19 reared its ugly head towards the end of the session, our legislature re-prioritized the queue of bills to be voted on. The ECA was bumped down the list and never received a vote before the legislative session expired.


The good news is that DNR is putting forward ECA again during the 2021 Legislative Session (beginning Monday, January 11), and Governor Jay Inslee’s budget includes the ECA for touching on key priorities such as climate resilience, public health and racial equity. Being included in the Governor’s budget is no promise the bill will be successful, but it is an important endorsement as the ECA makes its way to the State Legislature.

Rep. Bill Ramos (D) from Washington’s 5th District is the prime sponsor of the ECA and will be working with other supporters to draft a bill for review by his colleagues and relevant committees. A sponsor for an ECA bill in the state Senate has yet to be identified.

If the ECA passes as presented, it will dedicate 2.1 million dollars per biennium of state funding for urban forestry in Washington state. Those dollars would go toward pass-through grants for tree ordinances, tree inventories, canopy analyses and urban forest management plans for Washington cities and towns, create the Evergreen Community recognition program and support additional staffing within DNR’s urban forestry program to carry out this work. Such an investment will greatly enhance the capacity of DNRs Urban & Community Forestry Program to provide urban forestry assistance to communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Keep an eye on future editions of Tree Link for more updates on the ECA.


Comments Needed Now on Draft Seattle 2020 Urban Forest Management Plan

The City of Seattle is seeking comments on their draft Urban Forest Management Plan. Update – The survey questions are closed as of Nov 30, 2020 but comments can still be sent in – see below

Information on the draft plan is here: Urban Forest Management Plan Update. Here is a direct link to the survey: 2020 Urban Forest Management Plan Public Comment.
You will be asked to rank 18 proposed actions by the city. This survey is closed 
We urge you to rank “Update the City’s Tree protection regulations” and “Focus tree planting in environmental equity priority communities” as the top 1 and 2 priorities respectively. The tree regulation updates are critical and have been postponed for 11 years. Low tree canopy in the historically under-resourced areas of Seattle has resulted in health and other related disparities for BIPOC and low-income communities.
There will be a section following the priority ranking for entering comments. Please add your own comments and/or cut and paste from our comments below that address issues with the draft Plan. Thank you for your quick response.
Please note: if you can’t make the Nov 30th deadline, email your comments to Sandra.PintoUrrutia@seattle.gov to get posted on the Seattle Urban Forest Commission as public comments.

For more background, here are some suggested comments. Feel free to copy and paste.

The draft Seattle 2020 Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) needs to be strengthened to more aggressively protect Seattle’s existing trees and urban forest citywide.

The first Seattle Urban Forest Management Plan in 2007 adopted a goal of 30% tree canopy cover by 2037 for Seattle. The 2016 Seattle Tree Canopy Assessment has Seattle’s tree canopy at 28%. But the 30% canopy goal is still set at 30% for 17 years from now. Meanwhile Tacoma in 2018 determined they had a 20% tree canopy cover and set a goal of getting to 30% by 2030.  Seattle needs to adopt a more aggressive goal and join Tacoma in setting 2030 as their target date to reach 30% tree canopy.

While tree canopy cover is an important metric to track trees, the data collected should also include 3-D slices to get an idea of canopy volume changes as well as tracking loss of large trees which provide the most ecosystem services to the city. Periodic 5 year assessment of canopy is an important tracking metric.

The 2020 UFMP needs to update the statement that the “replacement value of Seattle’s existing urban forest … is close to $5 billion dollars” to reflect current values. The figure of $4.99 billion dollars was from a 2012 Seattle’s Forest Ecosystems Values report when the tree canopy was estimated at 23% and is outdated. It would also greatly help to conduct a Natural Capital Assessment to get a better grasp on the ecosystem service value of the urban forest to the city.

The 2020 draft UFMP devotes only one page to the “importance of urban trees” while the 2013 Urban Forest Stewardship Plan devoted 5 pages. However, five pages are devoted to “challenges” and “competing uses.” Please devote more explanation to the benefits and documentation of the importance of urban trees like was done in the 2013 Plan.

The following clear Priority Actions listed in the 2013 Plan have been removed. They should be added back with their more detailed explanation.

  • Priority Action – “Preserve existing trees. Because it takes decades for most trees to reach their ultimate size, trees already growing in Seattle generally provide immediate and ongoing benefits that cannot be matched by small/younger placement trees.” …Focus especially on Evergreen Trees…Mid-large trees…Forests, woodlands and tree groves…Unique wildlife habitat. Priority Action – Maintain existing trees…
  • Priority Action – “Restore…”
  • Priority Action – Plant new trees…”
  • Priority Action – Increase awareness of the value and proper care of trees.

Eighteen Action items are mentioned in the current draft. One of the most important items is listed last and is not bolded as a priority item. “Update the City’s tree protection regulations.” Seattle City Council Resolution 31902 specifically says, “Submit legislation in 2020 for consideration by the Council.” The specific lack of emphasis on the need to update SMC 25.11, the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance, is unfortunately consistent with the city’s current 11 year delay in modernizing and updating the ordinance.

Unlike many other cities, in Seattle

  • no permits are required to remove most trees on private property,
  • tree replacement by developers of exceptional trees and trees over 24 inches DBH even when required by law since 2001 are usually not replaced,
  • no in lieu fee is in place if trees cannot be replaced on site; significant trees removed are not required to be replaced,
  • maximizing retention of existing trees during development is not required,
  • arborists are not required to be licensed and sign off on knowledge of tree regulations,
  • a separate detailed tree inventory prior to any development is not required and the list goes on and on.

Resolution 31902 passed by the Seattle City Council in 2019 lists a series of regulations and actions to be considered on protecting trees, however a complete list is not in this Plan. For example, the adoption of an in-lieu fee if trees cannot be replaced on site, would help to provide needed funds to plant trees in “low-income and low canopy neighborhoods.” As the 2016 City Canopy Study confirmed, in “Census tracts with lower counts of tree canopy more of the population tends to be people of color and lower income.” Portland, Oregon just amended their tree ordinance to charge a fee in lieu of $450/inch for all trees removed by developers that are over 20 inches DSH. In 2018 when the fee in lieu was for trees over 36 inches DSH, they collected some $1.44 million for their Tree Removal and Replacement Fund.

Key activity metrics conspicuously lack tracking tree removal and only note tree planting.  All metrics should be tracked on a quarterly basis and publicly posted on the city website. SDCI is not included in tracking tree replacement (or tree loss) in key activity metrics, even though this is mentioned elsewhere as one of their key priorities. Since all trees are supposed to be on a site plan for development, the information of existing trees, trees removed, trees replaced, in lieu fees paid and the location where replacement trees were planted should all be tracked.  As noted, SDCI’s private property oversight covers some 72% of the trees in Seattle and should be the entity doing the most tracking of tree retention, loss, and replacement, both during development and outside of development. They should do this by requiring permits to remove and replace trees as many other cities have been doing for years.

The elephant in the room, but not discussed in detail in the draft plan, is the push for increased housing density and construction in the city. Lots are literally being clearcut across the city. Many trees are being lost, including large old trees that provide the most benefits to people living and working in the city. The city and this plan are not attaching a cost to this loss of trees and their benefits or looking for ways to both build and protect more trees. SDCI is not even willing to incorporate the phrase requiring developers “to maximize the retention of existing trees” in landscaping plans. Meanwhile Portland, OR in 2018 amended their tree ordinance to require permits to remove any tree outside the building development footprint to reduce the unnecessary loss of existing trees. Seattle should follow suit and also aggressively work with builders to develop alternative building design plans that could save more trees.

It is a long overdue priority to address the race and social justice and environmental inequities occurring in communities of color and lower income communities. Inclusive community involvement is a vital part of the solution, but the same development pressures facing areas with lots of trees also affect these communities. As the 2013 Urban Forest Stewardship Plan noted, replanting of trees to compensate for large trees cut down will take decades to compensate for the benefits lost, no matter where they are planted in the city. The loss is even more significant to the communities that have low tree canopy to start with.

Portland, Oregon Again Leading the Way on Stronger Tree Protection

The following e-mail was sent to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council:
Here is an update on what Portland, Oregon is currently doing regarding updating their Tree Ordinance.
Portland, Oregon last week took another strong step toward strengthening their Tree Ordinance.
On Nov. 12, the Portland City Council adopted an ordinance that updates the city’s tree policies to promote greater preservation of trees when development occurs in certain types of commercial, employment and industrial areas, and to further incentivize preservation of larger trees in other development situations.”
Among the provisions of the updated ordinance, it
  • “Reduces the threshold for required preservation of private trees from 36 inches to 20 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) wherever tree preservation is required
  • Reduces the threshold for the application of an inch-per-inch fee in lieu of preservation for private trees from 36 inches dbh to 20 inches dbh …
  • Directs Portland Parks and Recreation to bring a scope of work for future updates to the city’s tree code (Title 11 of Portland City Code) to City Council by March 31, 2021 and directs the City Council to consider funding for that work during the fiscal year 2021-22 City budget process.”
Link to full Portland news article below,  which has a link to the amended ordinance text for Chapter 11.50 -Trees in Development Situations and accompanying documentation of the adoption process.

Portland.gov – Portland City Council adopts updates to city’s tree code, strengthening tree preservation

Note that Portland will now require as of Dec 12th, that developers pay a Fee in Lieu of 2 for 1 replacement cost for removed trees 12-20 inches diameter and inch for inch cost for rees removed that are over 20 inches in diameter.
The amended ordinance in Exhibit C, of the accompanying document shows the new amended Fee in Lieu cost:
Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry Title 11, Trees Fee Schedule DEVELOPMENT effective December 12, 2020
preservation, Fee in Lieu private trees
trees>12 inches and <20 inches in diameter …. $1800/tree
trees>20 inches in diameter ….. $450/inch
planting and establishment Fee in Lieu …. $450/inch
With budget shortfalls this year note that Seattle continues to lose potential revenue to support our urban forest infrastructure as lots during development are frequently clear-cut. Portland, Oregon meanwhile is generating revenue to help reduce tree loss and counter it by replacing trees. Here is a link to Portland’s latest report.  Urban Forestry Title 11 Fund Report Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Fee in Lieu.
Portland reported that they generated $1,444,426 for their Tree Planting and Preservation Fund and $981,720 for their Urban Forestry Fund for revenue in fiscal year 2018-2019 totaling $2,426,149. 
 These number will go up as Portland has lowered its threshold for its Fee in Lieu for tree loss during development from 36 inches DBH to 20 inches DBH. Private homeowner’s Fees in Lieu start at 12 inches DHB but are seldom used as it appears that they mostly choose to replace the removed tree and thus not have to pay a Fee in Lieu.
Seattle has put off updating SMC 25.11 – its Tree Protection Ordinance now for 11 years. Even going by Portland’s latest figures Seattle has probably forgone $25 – $30 million since 2009 in potential revenue for urban forestry by not updating its tree ordinance as other cities are doing.
Thank you for your continued support for updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. We need to move forward now.
Steve Zemke

Help Save An Exceptional Big Leaf Maple Tree in Madrona!

Action needed now – call or email today – Tue. Oct 6, 2020 at the latest!


A two-week notice has been posted for an application to remove this tree. Help save this exceptional big leaf maple tree!

Located at 35th Ave and Spring  1 block east of Madrona Park

 The Heart of Madrona in Seattle

TREE 59973 is a 48” diameter big leaf maple, well over the criteria for an “exceptional tree” 

It is adjacent to a playground, on a key pedestrian route to Lake Washington, storing lots of carbon and fighting global warming.  David Kirske, Chief Financial Officer of CTI Biopharma Corp. seeks to cut down this gem to build a better driveway and sidewalk. (Yes, seriously).  And he refuses to talk to the community about collaborative approaches to save the tree.

Contact Nolan Rundquist, head of SDOT’s Urban Forestry Division. 

 email at  Seattle.Trees@Seattle.gov 

(206) 684-TREE (8733). 

Reference # SDOTTREE0000252 (tree removal permit appliction number) 





BIG TREES ARE CRITICAL TO THE HEALTH OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND URBAN ENVIRONMENT – storing carbon, redicing pollution and countering climate change.

E-mails should also be cc’ed  to Jenny.Durkan@Seattle.gov, Council@Seattle.gov, Sandra.Pinto_de_Bader@Seattle.gov

Thanks for your help.

Seattle Needs to Amend 2035 Comprehensive Plan to Provide More Protection for Trees

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest  supports Seattle City Council Resolution 31970.
We support amending Seattle’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan to “identify opportunities to better support the urban tree canopy”
We also support the provision to consider “impact fee amendments to public owned parks, open space and recreation facilities and school facilities”
In addition to considering amendments proposed by 5(C) and 5(I) –
We also ask that the provision of “no net loss of tree canopy” in the previous Comprehensive Plan be added back to the current Plan. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in 2018 urged that this be added back as part of Seattle’s Tree Regulations.
Another provision to add is  “maximizing the retention of existing trees” during development as in the Land Use Code SMC 23 to help stop unnecessary clearcutting of lots and a significant loss of existing tree canopy.
 To help meet race and social justice goals and climate crisis impacts and help implement the Green New Deal step up the 30% tree canopy goal in the Comprehensive Plan from 2037 to 2030.
And please make the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission part of the process by adding that OPCD  submit to the UFC any draft language they propose on tree canopy opportunities and ask for the UFC’s comments and these comments also be submitted to the Seattle City Council.

Public Comment Needed Now to Increase Tree Protection in Seattle!

Action Needed Now to Protect Seattle’s Trees!

Public Comments are needed now supporting draft SDCI Director’s Rule 13-2020 for Increased Tree Protection – Deadline August 17th

Your help is needed now to ensure that stronger tree protection in Seattle moves forward. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections has released a draft update to its 2008 Director’s Rule on Exceptional Trees. Director’s Rule 13-2020 will be used to give updated guidance to developers and property owners on tree protection in Seattle.
Public comment in support of this update is needed by
Monday August 17, 2020


The update was mandated by Mayor Burgess’s Executive Order 2017-11 – Tree Protection and by the 2019 Seattle City Council Resolution 31902 after strong citizen outrage over continued tree loss in the city.
The draft Director’s Rules would give greater protection to large trees, tree groves, Heritage Trees, and all trees over 6 inches in diameter at standard height (DSH). It would require Tree Care Providers to register with the city of Seattle and comply with city tree regulations. It would also finally require developers who remove exceptional trees and trees over 24 inches DSH to replace them on site or elsewhere in the city. This requirement has been in the current Tree Protection Ordinance since 2001 but was never enforced.
Adoption of the Director’s Rule as drafted is not guaranteed but can be changed or delayed due to public pressure. We would like to see stronger protection. The King County Master Builders, meanwhile, are urging their members to also submit public comments, including urging the update be delayed for 18 months.
The draft updated Director’s Rule is long overdue. Citizens have been urging updated tree protection for 11 years. Enough is enough.
The draft is a strong step toward adding more tree protection now while an updated city Tree Protection Ordinance is being considered.
You can help. We have put together a pre-written letter of support that includes amendments proposed by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in their public comments to the city.
Our pre-written letter highlights the main areas of support in the proposed Director’s Rule and our suggestions on how the Director’s Rule can be strengthened.

All you need to do is click on TAKE ACTION to get started.

You will be asked to let the city know who you are and where you live, so the city knows who is commenting. You can add your personal comments to the draft, and with one click, send it to the city to add your support. Thanks for your help.
When the updated Director’s Rule is finally adopted, it will be a big step forward in increasing protection for trees and Seattle’s urban forest.
Please share this e-mail with others to seek additional public input. Thanks!

What are the key provisions in the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance?

What are the key provisions in
the Seattle Urban Forestry
Commission’s draft Tree and
Urban Forest Protection

Power Point Presentation


                       Click here to see Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s draft                           Seattle Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance,

Seattle Urban Forestry Commission feedback on King County’s 30-year Forest Plan

The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission made the following recommendations to King County regarding it’s 30-year Forest Plan. You can see the original letter here.

March 11, 2020
Christie True, Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director
King Street Center, 201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104-3855

Dear Director True,
The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) thanks Sarah Brandt for her updates regarding King County’s 30-year Forest Plan. The UFC supports this undertaking on a county level because of the complexity and interaction of the many different land uses and environmental issues involving forestry across the county.
King County is well-positioned to coordinate and share best practices and planning across the county by bringing together the many diverse stakeholders that benefit from and are impacted by decisions affecting our forested landscape. Seattle and other cities in King County have overlapping interests in maintaining, protecting, and
enhancing the benefits that urban forests provide to their dwellers. The following suggestions for the County may help municipalities better manage environmental concerns relating to forestry.

Assist Collection of High-Quality Tree Canopy Cover Data across the County
Without good data on trees and canopy cover, municipalities manage urban forests in the dark. The UFC suggests that King County could assist in periodic LIDAR studies to measure canopy cover across the county to provide baseline data for all cities, towns, and unincorporated areas in the county. Importantly, these studies
should be repeated at least every five years. These data will allow decision makers to assess gains and losses in tree canopy over time.

The UFC recommends that these studies measure canopy volume in addition to canopy cover. King County is losing large trees, especially in cities. Replanting with small trees may give a similar canopy area over time but does not fully replace the benefits large trees provide particularly well, including carbon sequestration,
stormwater mitigation, air quality improvement, wildlife support, and heat island impacts reduction. A LIDAR study can also help to clarify forest species diversity by doing a leaf off study to determine the percentage of evergreen and conifer species in an area.

Consider Cumulative and Ecosystem Level Impacts
Sharing information on climate impacts to trees and forests and ensuring species diversity and resilience is important. Looking at the total ecosystem impacts must be considered. Forestry is more than just trees. It includes associated plants, shrubs, and wildlife. The totality, interrelationships and functionality of forests, both
rural and urban, must be considered as the region grows in population.

Take Stock of and Value King County’s Natural Capital
Seattle is starting a Natural Capital Assessment to assign dollar values to its natural features and the benefits they provide. King County should consider a similar assessment as part of its forestry plan.

Convene Stakeholders, Leverage Partnerships, and Share Resources
Another way that King County can assist urban areas is by working with entities like the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Urban and Community Forestry Program, the US Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, and King Conservation District in organizing workshops for municipalities to develop effective tree and urban forest ordinances and management plans. Convening stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities would greatly benefit the County in implementing an effective forest plan. By leveraging partnerships and sharing resources, cities across the county can manage urban forests in a regionally
coordinated manner and improve on efforts from work done in other areas.

The UFC also urges King County to make efforts to include other entities in its outreach and future involvement. These include dealing with Washington state entities like the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State Department of Ecology as well as Federal Agencies that own land in King County.
Other important entities to include is exploring ways to involve school districts and students in efforts to protect and increase forests. These will be their forests in the future.

Consider a County-level Urban Forestry Advisory Board
King County has already created a Rural Forestry Commission. There is a need for a similar board for urban areas. Multiple tree and urban forest protection ordinances and management plans exist across the county. Each municipality has its own process for drafting and updating these ordinances and plans. While the basic issues are similar, cities act independently and frequently lack the resources and expertise to evaluate the benefits or problems associated with different ways of regulating tree and forest protection. The County could help coordinate efforts.

Thank you for your outreach and efforts to create a 30-year Forest Plan for King County. The UFC supports your efforts and looks forward to working with you.

Weston Brinley, Chair; Steve Zemke

cc: Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Council President Lorena González, CM Lisa Herbold, CM Debora Juarez, CM Andrew Lewis, CM Tammy Morales, CM Teresa Mosqueda, CM Alex Pedersen, CM Kshama Sawant, CM Dan Strauss, Jessica Finn Coven, Michelle Caulfield, Josh Baldi, Warren Jimenez, Sarah Brandt, Jessica Engel, Kathleen Farley Wolf, Paúl Quiñonez Figueroa

Sandra Pinto de Bader, Urban Forestry Commission Coordinator
City of Seattle, Office of Sustainability & Environment
PO Box 94729 Seattle, WA 98124-4729 Tel: 206-684-3194 Fax: 206-684-3013

Weston Brinkley (Position #3 – University), Chair • Sarah Rehder (Position #4 – Hydrologist), Vice-chair • Steve Zemke (Position #1 – Wildlife Biologist) • Elby Jones (Position #2 – Urban Ecologist – ISA) •Stuart Niven (Position #5 – Arborist – ISA) • Michael Walton (Position #6 – Landscape Architect – ISA) • Joshua Morris (Position #7 – NGO) • Steven Fry (Position #8 – Development) • Blake Voorhees (Position # 9 – Realtor) • Neeyati Johnson (Position #10 – Get Engage d) • Whit Bouton (Position #11 – Environmental Justice – ISA)  • Jessica Jones (Position # 12 – Public Health) • Shari Selch (Position # 13 – Community/Neighborhood)