The Seattle metropolitan area urban forestry canopy has decreased from about 40% in 1972 to only about 23% today in the city of Seattle. And every neighborhood has seen the loss of trees both one by one and in larger numbers when development occurs.
What is needed is stronger protections for our urban forest and its trees. Trees help reduce storm water runoff; remove pollutants from the air, including CO2; provide habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife; calm traffic on our streets, increase property values, help in reducing heat in the summer and cold in the winter; and create more livable neighborhoods and business districts among other things.
With increased development and population growth, Seattle is losing its trees. While other cities around the Northwest, like Portland, Oregon and Lake Forest Park, WA have recently strengthened their tree ordinances, Seattle has actually proposed legislation to significantly decrease protections for trees. Rather than an open process involving the public to draft new legislation, the Seattle City Council has asked the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to draft new legislation. Unfortunately they have a conflict of interest in their mission which is to help people build and develop, not protect trees.
Unfortunately the first two drafts proposed by DPD were written to give developers and others a free reign to do whatever they wanted and proposed no longer protecting significant trees and tree groves or even limiting how many trees could be removed in a year. They instead proposed that public education and incentives were all that is needed.
Please contact your Seattle City Councilmembers and the Mayor and let them know you want our trees and urban forest to be protected by passing stronger protections, not reducing them.
Tell the Mayor and the City Council to:
1. Maintain and expand protections for exceptional trees and tree groves.
2. Require permits to remove trees on both public and private property like other cities are doing and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) already does in the planting strips.
3. Require 2 week posting of tree removals which SDOT already does.
4. Require regulations to cover both public and private trees as Portland, Oregon is doing.
5. Consolidate tree oversight in a new Department of Forestry or the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, not the Department of Planning and Development.
6. Require that a Canopy Impact Assessment be done on all development projects, evaluating the impact of tree removal on the city goal of reaching 30 % canopy cover by 2037.
7. Require equivalent tree replacement either on or off site for all trees removed so there is no net loss of canopy as per the City Comprehensive Plan.
8. Give priority to planting native trees and vegetation to help preserve native plants and wildlife.
9. Emphasize habitat protection, retention of soils and ecological processes
10. License and train all arborists and tree cutting operations, impose fines and suspension for violations.
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You can help in our efforts to protect our trees and urban forest by joining with us. Add your name to our e-mail contact list by contacting us at Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest, c/o Steve Zemke – Chair, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle. WA 98133, firstname.lastname@example.org , 206-366-0811. Our facebook page is at Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and our website is at www.friends.urbanforests.org .