Action Needed – Help Save Seattle’s Trees!

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, , 206-366-0811. Our facebook page is at Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and our website is at .



Action Needed – Help Save Seattle’s Trees! — 6 Comments

  1. I would like to kelp save urban trees in Seattle as well as western Washington. I know some trees have to come down for safety, Like I saw a maple tree 4 feet thick and the part were the trunk forks, each fork is 3 feet thick and the tree was starting to rot in that big section and could split in half and I limb already came off and damaged the house and people do not want or have the room for new trees. We need to do something to save our urban trees all over the sate, because that is part of makes this place amazing. There is a good start, like construction workers leave trees in place and try work around them, but we have a long way to go and the hardest part is different opinions on people who like trees and people who don’t.

  2. Ps please email me for comments and I would like to join in the fight for urban trees.

  3. Pingback: Forest for the Trees: Seattle Neighborhoods and Canopy Grow - Smart Growth Seattle : Smart Growth Seattle

  4. Pingback: Trees | Seattle Nature Alliance

  5. Hello, my wife and I live in a condo complex in Redmond. The resident next door wants to cut down a beautiful cedar tree that we understand may be about 100 years old. We have heard conflicting opinions that the diameter of the tree is just under or perhaps meets the criterion for protection under some law or ordinance. (It is also unclear what this law is.)

    In short, we are looking for help from somewhere to help us save this tree. Is this group limited to just Seattle proper, or do you serve the entire metro area? Are there other groups that can help? Please let us know.

    William Wurtz
    Redmond, WA