Three Positions open on Seattle Urban Forestry Commission Apply by 2/24/22

Following Post is copied from Seattle Greenspace Blog – Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment to help make information available to the public

Three Positions Available: Apply by

2/24/22 to Join the Urban Forestry



Commission meetings are held twice a month on the first and second Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Currently, meetings are being held remotely via Webex application (with access via either phone or computer). 

The City of Seattle is now accepting applications for three positions on the Urban Forestry Commission, a 13-member body established to advise the Mayor and City Council around policy and regulations related to protecting, maintaining, and preserving trees and vegetation in the City of Seattle. There are three open positions:

  • Position #2 – Urban Ecologist (or similar)
  • Position #3 – Natural Resource Agency or University Representative
  • Position #13 – Community/Neighborhood Representative.

Commission positions ask for a time commitment of roughly 8-10 hours per month. In addition to meeting one of the positions above, applicants must also understand the impact racism and race-based disparities have on communities of color and have an interest in working to eliminate these disparities and advance equity. Applicants should also have an interest in collaborating with other community members to develop recommendations for tree canopy care and protection, while centering the communities most burdened by lack of access to tree canopy and its related benefits, and demonstrated ability to develop collaborative, productive, and respectful relationships with people from diverse educational, social, cultural, and racial backgrounds.

How to Apply:

If you are interested in collaborating with a team of community leaders working on improving the care and management of Seattle’s tree canopy for the benefit of the community while centering communities most impacted by health and educational injustices, please apply by February 24. For information on the open positions and to access the application, please visit our website.

For more information, please contact Patti Bakker, Interim Urban Forestry Commission Liaison, at

About the Commission:

The Urban Forestry Commission was established in 2009 by Ordinance 123052 to advise the Mayor and City Council concerning the establishment of policy and regulations governing the protection, management, and conservation of trees and vegetation in the City of Seattle. Commission meetings are held twice a month on the first and second Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Currently, meetings are being held remotely via Webex application (with access via either phone or computer). Commission members must live or work in Seattle and generally must commit approximately eight to ten hours per month to Commission business and serve without compensation. Additional information about the Urban Forestry Commission can be found at

The thirteen-member UFC consists of a wildlife biologist; an urban ecologist; a representative of a local, state, or federal natural resource agency or an accredited university; a hydrologist; a certified arborist; a representative of a non-profit or non-governmental organization; a representative of the development community or a representative from a non-city utility; an economist, financial analyst, or Washington State license real estate broker; a Get Engaged young adult; an environmental justice representative; a public health representative; and a community/neighborhood representative.

Send A Be My Valentine To State Legislators: Add Urban & Community Forestry Amendments To E2SHB 1099

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

Dear Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest,

E2SHB 1099 is in the WA State Senate Housing and Land Use Committee. The bill would add a climate resiliency element that cities and counties need to consider when they update their Comprehensive Plans under the state’s Growth Management Act. They are considering amendments to the bill in Executive Session on Thursday before it is voted to pass the bill out of  Committee.

Please help strengthen the bill by sending  Washington State Senators a Valentine’s Day email urging that they adopt the purposed urban forest amendments below.
🌳💚🌲Send a ‘Be My Valentine’ email 🌲💚🌳

We have a pre-written e-mail you can quickly sent them. Feel free to add your own comments.Here are our proposed amendments we are asking for:

In Sec. 4 (1) – Page 7 line 14 – Add underlined words – “A land use element designating the proposed general distribution and general location and extent of the uses of land, where appropriate, for agriculture, timber production, housing, commerce, industry, recreation, open spaces, general aviation, airports, public utilities, public facilities, urban and community forests, and other land uses.”
In Sec. 4 (1) – Page 7 line 22 – Insert following sentence – “The land use element must evaluate urban and community forestry canopy cover and its preservation and enhancement to mitigate heat impacts and associated health impacts on humans and the natural environment,”
In Sec. 4 (9) (b) (i) (A) – Page 17 line 30 – Add following words (bolded only to designate they are new words to add to current new sentence in bill) to the following – “Identify, protect, and enhance urban and community forests and other natural areas to foster resiliency to climate impacts, as well as areas of vital habitat for plant and animal diversity, safe passage and species migration; and”

Thanks for your help!
Steve Zemke – Chair
Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

Contributions to support our efforts are always welcome. Click here to donate.

Questions about Seattle, Washington’s 30% Tree Canopy Goal

In 2007, Seattle, Washington in their Urban Forest Management Plan set a goal  to reach a 30% canopy cover by 2037. The most current canopy cover analysis done in 2016 stated that Seattle has a canopy cover of 28%. Several issues with this study. Canopy was measured at eight feet above the ground which includes many shrubs that grow over 8 feet tall like laurel and holly and other hedge shrubs. Many of these are also invasive plants in Seattle.
An additional issue is that the true measure of canopy value is canopy volume in terms of ecosystems services, not canopy area. Small trees planted to replace a 100 tall Douglas fir or western red cedar may cover the same surface area but will never replace the benefits that mature large trees provide.
The current canopy cover goal was a 30-year goal set in 2007 in the Urban Forest Management Plan that was added in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan. They were estimating at  that time that the current canopy cover was at 18% and to reach a 30% canopy they needed to plant some 649,000 more trees. What does not appear to be considered is tree survivability and replacement tree species (size) or when the  trees needed to be planted to grow to the desired canopy cover. Trees planted 30 years ago would have had 14 years of growth to date and in 2037 be over 30 years old. Trees planted in 2030 would only have 7 years of growth toward the canopy goal.
“How Did We Derive Cover Goals? 
American Forests, a leading urban forest management, conservation and research group, measured tree cover in 440 communities. Their research recommends that a canopy cover goal of 40% would be appropriate for Seattle and other cities in the Pacific Northwest.
In developing canopy cover goals for Seattle, the Urban Forest Coalition started with the American Forests recommendation and went through the following process to define an ambitious but doable goal for the Urban Forest Management Plan 30-year planning horizon (Table 5):
 • Considered American Forests’ recommendations and benchmarked with other cities 
• Considered land-use mix in Seattle and other City land-use goals (e.g. encouraging density, facilitating freight mobility, etc.)
 • Considered current canopy cover and planting opportunities 
• Defined goals for each land-use type 52
 • Factored in the percentage of the total land base within each land-use type and individual land-use goals to calculate the recommended citywide goal of 30%
 • Consulted with external experts from other cities, consultants, the University of Washington, and the public.”
Table 5. Canopy Cover Goals by Management Unit (MU)* – see page 58 
Table 7. City Wide Management Unit Data – see page 68
also – Canopy Cover Goals for Seattle by Management Unit – see page 14
American Forests recommended a 40 % canopy goal for most cities at that time.
 Seattle was mistakenly stated by some to have a 40 % canopy around then. The canopy analysis done by American Forests at the time was on King County, not Seattle specifically. All of Seattle, except for Schmitz Park and Seward Park, has been clearcut, is second or third growth and was not at 40% in the 70’s.
In 2017 American Forests released the following – “Why We No Longer Recommend a 40% Urban Tree Canopy Goal” The article basically says one size does not fit all because of varying state environmental conditions.
The good news for Seattle is the following statement in that article – “Within those parameters, quantifiable data can be used so a tree canopy goal achieves specific objectives, such as reaching the canopy percentage necessary to reduce urban heat island temperatures to a specific range, or to reduce stormwater runoff by a projected amount. According to a national analysis by U.S. Forest Service researchers David Nowak (also on our Science Advisory Board) and Eric Greenfield, a 40-60 percent urban tree canopy is attainable under ideal conditions in forested states.”
The UFC supported and pushed for maintaining an aspirational goal of 40% canopy cover in Seattle in the latest Comprehensive Plan but be certain the city will probably again try to remove this goal. Seattle is currently working on updating their Comprehensive Plan with a release in 2024 state deadline. Minimally the UFC should push for 30% by 2030 which allows for 9 years of growth of trees planted in 2021 and retaining as many existing trees as possible. The 2030 timeline fits with the city’s other adopted ambitious climate goals being set for 2030. We do have a climate crisis and the city has no set plan as to how it can reach 30% besides planting maybe several thousand trees a year on private property. We do not need to wait for another LIDAR study. We have a significant lack of trees in south Seattle that needs to be addressed regardless of what our current canopy citywide is. It is an environmental justice and equity issue because higher temperatures due to the Heat island Effect can and does kill people..
Here are some tree canopy cover figures for other cities in Washington State and around the US on the Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest website –   Canopy Cover 
The current 30% goal is actually a macro goal. In terms of tree canopy needs, where trees need to be planted is in low canopy areas, which are mostly low income and minority areas, which in large part correlates with previously redlined areas. Also industrial areas have low canopy. These areas are also the ones that have experienced the greatest heat island impacts – which can be deadly to people living and working there.   What is really needed is a targeted goal to add trees and canopy in to these low canopy areas that are low income and BIPOC communities in south Seattle that are identified by higher temperatures caused by the heat island impacts.
As part of Seattle’s climate crisis response it needs to target these low canopy areas. It needs to set a goal to plant and grow the needed trees there. The timeframe needs to be shortened to 2030 to match other city goals to address the climate crisis response by 2030.

Urge Washington State Senators to Pass E2SHB 1216

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest
 Urge Washington State Senators to Pass E2SHB 1216

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your previous strong support and e-mails sent to the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee. The Committee voted to remove the  amendment introduced in the House that would have let private property owners “opt out” of local tree and urban forests ordinances. Your support is making a difference.

E2SHB 1216 would provide $2.7 million per biennium for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to assist cites, counties and tribes in doing tree inventories and canopy studies, developing Urban Forest Management Plans, and drafting Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinances. 

E2SHB 1216 is currently in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. A Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 30th at 1:30 PM.
Your help is critical now to keep the bill moving and get it enacted into state law. Here’s how you can help.

Sign in “Pro” on E2SHB 1216

This must be done 1 hour before the Committee meets.

Send an e-mail to State Senators urging they pass this bill!

Click on the link above to send Senators a pre-written e-mail that you can edit.

Once passed out of Ways and Means, E2SHB 1216 will go to the Senate floor for a final vote. Like we did in the House, we need to show strong public support to get this bill passed!

Urge Washington State Senators to Amend and Pass E2SHB 1216

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest
Urge Washington State Senators to Amend and Pass E2SHB 1216 

Dear Friends,

Thanks to your strong support E2SHB 1216  (Engrossed 2nd Substitute HB 1216) was passed by the Washington State House of Representatives and is now in the State Senate.

E2SHB 1216 – concerning urban and community forests – would direct the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to assist Washington cities and towns and counties in our state conducting  tree inventories and canopy analysis, developing Urban Forestry Management Plans and drafting local Tree Ordinances.

A hearing on the bill is set for Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 1:30 PM in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural resources and Parks Committee.

How you can help.

Sign in Pro on E2SHB 1216
must be done by 12:30 PM on 3/16/2021

Send public comments to Key Committee members
Executive Action scheduled for 3/18/2021
Action network e-mail urges Committee to amend the bill and then pass it.

Thanks for your help.                         .

Steve Zemke – Chair
Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

Campaign Update -Take Action Now – Urge Washington State House Legislators to Pass HB 1216 to Increase Protection for Urban and Community Forests

Take Action – Urge Washington State House Legislators to Pass
HB 1216
to Increase Protection for Urban and Community Forests

Thanks to the over 200 people who responded to our previous e-mail on HB 1216 asking you to send an e-mail to the members of the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  The committee voted ‘do pass” on HB 1216  and sent it to the Appropriations Committee. A hearing has been set for Tues, Feb 16th at 1:30 PM. To stay alive the bill needs to be voted out of the Appropriations Committee by Feb. 22nd and sent to the House Rules Committee in order to be added to the calendar to be voted on by the full House. 

We have changed the text of the e-mail for you to send and expanded it to include all House members. We need you to send the new e-mail to let all House members know there is strong support for passing HB 1216. You can make a difference.

HB 1216 would direct the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to assist Washington cities and towns and counties in our state conducting  tree inventories and canopy analysis, developing Urban Forestry Management Plans and drafting local Tree Ordinances.

HB 1216 was sponsored by Representative Ramos and 8 other House members. This bill was requested by the Department of Natural Resources and is supported By Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee has earmarked $2.7 million dollars in his proposed State Budget to support DNR’s efforts to increase protection for trees and urban forests. HB 1216 would help the state meet its goals of increasing climate resilience, protecting human health and addressing environmental equity.

Please do these two Quick Action items:

1. Send an e-mail today to keep HB 1216 moving in the Washington State House of Representatives.  

Submit Public Comment to House Members Now!

2.Sign in as “pro” HB 1216 on the Appropriations Committee hearing page. You must do this by 12:30 PM Tues, Feb. 16th. to be counted. 

I would like my position noted for the legislative record 

If you would also like to submit written testimony  for the Appropriations Committee Hearing legislative record click here. Submit written testimony for Hearing record HB 1216  Written testimony can be submitted up to 24 hours after the hearing starts.

Thanks for your help.

Take Action – Urge Washington State Legislators to Pass HB 1216 to Increase Protection for Urban and Community Forests

We need your help to increase protection for urban and community trees and forests in Washington State. HB 1216 has been introduced by Rep. Ramos and 8 other sponsors in the Washington State Legislature. It is a high priority bill to pass this session.

HB 1216 would direct the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to assist Washington cities and towns and counties in our state conducting  tree inventories and canopy analysis, developing Urban Forestry Management Plans and drafting local Tree Ordinances.

This bill was requested by the Department of Natural Resources and is supported By Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee has earmarked $2.1 million dollars in his proposed State Budget to support DNR’s efforts to increase protection for trees and urban forests. HB 1216 would help the state meet its goals of increasing climate resilience, protecting human health and addressing environmental equity.

HB 1216 is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, Jan 26 at 10 AM in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. To stay alive in the session, HB 1216 has to be voted out of the committee by Feb 15, 2021 and then out of the Appropriations Committee by Feb. 22, 2021.

The quickest and easiest way to let committee members know you support this bill is to send them an e-mail via Action Network. We have written a short e-mail draft supporting the bill to which you can add your own comments to personalize the message.  With one click it will be sent to all the Committee members as well as the bill sponsors. 

Submit Public Comments Now!

Thanks for your help.

Steve Zemke  – Chair
Friends of Seattle’s Urban Urban Forests

PS – Committee sign in – House Remote testimony-
You can additionally go to the Committee’s website on the hearing to sign up in support of the bill, submit written testimony online and/or testify in person via zoom. To speak you must sign up at least 1 hour before the hearing starts, and if time permits have 1 -2 minutes to speak, depending on how busy their hearing is. Written testimony submitted via this site is given to committee members and becomes part of the record.
Bill information – HB 1216 – Go to this legislative page to see the proposed text of HB 1216, to see the sponsors of the bill, the House Bill analysis, the history of the bill, to indicate your support for the bill, to send an e-mail of support to your own Legislative District Legislators and to sign up to get e-mail notifications of any changes in the bill’s status.

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 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.