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)

2020 Seattle City Council Committee Structure and Chairs to be Adopted on Monday

Here is the resolution to be voted on Monday Jan.6, 2020 by the Seattle City Council which will set up the Committee Structure, Committee Chairs and Committee members for 2020.
Updating the Tree Protection Ordinance will be through the Land Use & Neighborhoods Committee
They will meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 9:30 a.m.
Chair Dan Strauss
Vice-Chair Teresa Mosqueda
Member  Debra Juarez 
Member  Andrew Lewis 
Member Alex Pedersen
Alternate Lorena González
Committees will now have 5 members and an alternate, rather than 3 members and an alternate.
Voting an ordinance out of committee or making amendments in committee will now require 3 votes to pass.
Passage of an ordinance by the full City Council will require 5 votes.
6 votes of the full Council would be needed to override a Mayoral veto.
Here is the link to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance.
Quickly send Seattle’s Mayor and the Seattle City Council an email supporting the Urban Forestry Commission’s by going to

Explaining why key provisions are in the 2019 Seattle Urban Forestry Commission draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance

Clearcut North Seattle – Victory Hts

Clearcut North Seattle – Victory Hts

In June 2019, at the request of several Council members, the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission submitted  a draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance to the Seattle City Council and Mayor.

The Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance is urging the public and  organizations to submit letters of support on the draft ordinance through the website  A pre-written draft letter for individuals is available on the site to which additional comments can be added. A draft resolution is available for organizations to use to express their support.

Here is some further explanation on each item mentioned in the support letter for the Urban Forestry Commission’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance. This draft was submitted June 2019 to the Seattle City Council and the Mayor at the request of Councilmembers Bagshaw and Herbold.

1. Expand the existing tree removal and replacement permit program, including 2-week public notice and posting, as used by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) – to cover all trees 6” DBH and larger on private property in all land use zones, both during development and outside development.

 Explanation – Seattle currently has a complaint based system to monitor tree removal. It doesn’t work because people only know a tree is being cut down when they hear the chain saw. Many trees are removed illegally. Exceptional trees on private property as defined by Director’s Rule 16-2008 are not to be removed unless hazardous. The first sign a tree is being removed is usually hearing a chain saw  or seeing the tree gone when they pass by. Many other cities like Portland,OR; Atlanta, GA; Vancouver,BC and locally Sammamish, Shoreline, Mercer Island, Redmond, Lake Forest Park and Bellevue all require permits before trees can be removed. 
According to the  Seattle Forest Ecosystem Values Report, 6″ DBH (diameter at 54″ high) and larger trees represent about 45% of the trees in the single family zone. That means 55% are smaller than 6″ DBH. A Douglas fir at 6″ DBH is about 30 years old.
During development and outside development – also means property on which construction is occurring and property on which construction is not occurring.
Notice – posting is to let neighbors know if a tree is legally being removed.
 2. Require the replacement of all trees removed that are 6” DBH and larger with trees that in 25 years will reach equivalent canopy volume – either on site or pay an in-lieu fee into a City Tree Replacement and Preservation Fund. Allow the Fund to also accept fines, donations, grants and set up easements.
Explanation – Many cities require tree replacement when trees are removed. If trees are not replaced you are losing canopy. 
Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance passed in 2001 actually says in SMC 25.11.090:
“Tree replacement and site restoration. A. Each exceptional tree and tree over two (2) feet in diameter that is removed in association with development in all zones shall be replaced by one or more new trees, the size and species of which shall be determined by the Director; the tree replacement required shall be designed to result, upon maturity, in a canopy cover that is at least equal to the canopy cover prior to tree removal. Preference shall be given to on-site replacement. When on-site replacement cannot be achieved, or is not appropriate as determined by the Director, preference for off-site replacement shall be on public property.” 

The city has not kept a  record of  trees removed or replaced pursuant to this ordinance nor is there any record of developers paying the city to plant trees elsewhere. The city has not been enforcing this part of the ordinance. 

Note: The current draft lowers this provision to replace trees to 6″ DBH and allows trees to be planted on private property in the city that need more trees as part of the race and social justice initiative. The requirement to replant trees is extended to private property owners as many other cities have done including Portland,OR. 
The fee in lieu dollar amount would be set by DCI and is not in the ordinance, so it can be set and raised or lowered to ensure compliance and deal with changing costs over time. There is no replacement fee if replacement trees are re-planted on the property they are removed from. DCI would also have the authority  to reduce, delay or cancel in-lieu-fees, dependent on a property owner’s  financial circumstances.
3. Retain current protections for Exceptional Trees and reduce the upper threshold for exceptional trees to 24” DBH, protect tree groves and prohibit trees over 6” DBH being removed on undeveloped lots (vacant lots).
Explanation – There are about 6100 large exceptional trees left in Seattle according to the 2016 Seattle Tree Canopy Assessment. These are trees over 30″ DBH and up to 140 feet tall and probably 100 years old or more.  They are the survivors and provide the most ecological services to the city. They include Douglas fir, western red cedar and Big Leaf Maples. Reducing the diameter to 24″ DBH will protect more of these large trees that have lived longer than most people in the city, and will be impossible to replace in our, or our children’s, lifetime.
See Reasons to Save Big Trees in Urban Areas Friends of Urban Forests
4. Allow removal of no more than 2 significant non-exceptional trees in 3 years per lot outside development (i.e. no construction occurring).
Explanation – Seattle currently allows the removal outside development of 3 significant (> 6″DBH) trees that are not exceptional per year.
This can quickly remove all trees on a lot. A number of other cites have lower numbers and limit it even more over a longer time period. Renton limits it to 2 in 1 year and 4 in 5 years as an example. 
5. Establish one citywide database for tracking tree removal and replacement permits, and to track changes in the tree canopy. Post online all permit requests and permit approvals, both during development and outside development, for public viewing.
 Explanation -The database system was recommended in the 2017 Tree Regulations Research Project report.  Mayor Burgess, in his 2017 Tree Protection Executive order, directed it to be set up to track tree loss and replacement.
6. Expand SDOT’s existing tree service provider’s registration and certification to register all tree service providers (e.g. arborists) working on trees in Seattle.
Explanation – SDOT has already set up a a system to register and certify tree service providers and this would extend it to all that work on trees on private property. Providers would have to sign a statement that they have read the tree regulations and understand what is required. 
7. Provide adequate funding in the budget to implement and enforce the updated ordinance.
Explanation – DCI currently is understaffed regarding tree protection functions that include monitoring tree related issues and checking compliance with existing regulations, site inspections etc. This funding will be required to implement and better enforce the existing and updated ordinance.
cross posted on

Reasons to Save Existing Big Trees in Urban Areas

Saving big trees in urban areas is difficult, particularly during development as cities grow in size. But there are many reasons why saving big trees and planting new trees that will become big over time is important. Excerpts from 3 separate articles  below help to explain why.
Note – The bolding of the text below is mine to help focus on the issue of the value of big trees, not that of the original authors.
1. The Large Tree Argument – the Case for Large-Statue Trees vs Small-Stature Trees , Center for Urban Forest Research, Southern Center for Urban Forestry Research & Information 2004
Large trees pay us back. We now know that, dollar for dollar, large-stature trees … deliver big savings and other benefits we can’t ignore. Small-stature trees like crape myrtle deliver far fewer benefits. In fact, research at The Center for Urban Forest Research shows that their benefits are up to eight times less. Compared to a small-stature tree, a strategically located large-stature tree has a bigger impact on conserving energy, mitigating an urban heat island, and cooling a parking lot. They do more to reduce stormwater run off; extend the life of streets; improve local air, soil and water quality; reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide; provide wildlife habitat; increase property values; enhance the attractiveness of a community; and promote human health and well being.
And when we use large stature trees, the bottom-line benefits are multipliedWhen it comes to trees, size really does matter. Don’t forget the established “Old Guard” We can’t forget the already-established trees. These older trees provide immediate benefits. The investment that community leaders made 30, 40, 50 years ago is producing dividends today. Dr. McPherson, Director of the Center for Urban Forest Research, points out that “since up-front costs to establish these large-stature trees have already been made, keeping these trees healthy and functional is one of the best investments communities can make.”” 
2.  The Struggle to Save Seattle’s Urban Forest in the Face of Development, Seattle Magazine, October 2017, University of Washington social scientist Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D
“Wolf knows this research well, because her own work is focused on how people experience nature in cities, including the human health and economic benefits of the urban forest—the phrase used to describe the trees and understory plants in a city. Forest bathing aside, research shows our health is boosted by having access to urban trees and other nature. “Neighborhood greening reduces depression, may help kids reduce ADHD symptoms, reduces our stress response, encourages physical activity, reduces signs of mental distress, increases cognitive memory, improves air quality and, overall, promotes significantly higher well-being,” she says.

City trees can also raise property values, reduce crime and muffle urban noise. They help the environment, absorbing water, decreasing flooding and the need for water treatment, and absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, directly fighting climate change. “Up until recently, trees really didn’t have a place at the table with city decision making, but now, because we know about their environmental services and the health benefits, trees are an important component of city decision making,” says Wolf. ” ….

Wolf says large trees provide “a much greater proportion of benefit” to cities compared to small trees, in terms of ecosystem services, such as water quality, air quality and carbon sequestration. “Are we going to relegate large trees only to parks and green spaces, or can we incorporate them into development?” she asks. “I’m not sure.”

3.  When it comes to the Climate, Older trees do it Better, Bryan Walsh,, Jan.15, 2014

“…according to a new study published in Nature, it turns out that the oldest trees are actually still growing rapidly, and storing increasing amounts of carbon as they age. An international research group led by Nate Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center reviewed records from forest studies on six continents, involving 673,046 individual trees and more than 400 species, going back as far as 80 years ago. For 97% of the species surveyed, the mass growth rate—literally, the amount of tree in the tree—kept increasing even as the individual tree got older and taller. Even though trees tended to lose leaf density as they aged…the total amount of leaf cover kept increasing as the tree itself got bigger and older. In other words, the number of leaves per cubic foot fell off but the leafy surface area grew and grew. That enabled the tree to keep absorbing an increasing amount of carbon as it aged.For some species of trees, that increase could be enormous. A single big tree could sequester the same amount of new carbon in a year as might be contained in an entire mid-sized tree.”

Washington Native Plant Society editorial on updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance

WNPS Comments on Seattle City Tree Ordinance

Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). Photo: Ben Legler

Dear Mayor Durkan and Seattle City Councilmembers,

The Washington Native Plant Society commends you for your interest in Seattle’s trees and urges you to work with the Urban Forestry Commission to update Seattle’s tree protection ordinance this year. Our members and leaders have tracked Seattle’s progress toward effective tree protection as the urban tree canopy has continued to disappear.

Further delays of an effective tree protection ordinance increase the detrimental impacts of tree loss on our state’s largest city, a city many of us call home and that Washingtonians treasure. Losing our urban forest means losing the native plants that define the city.

Native trees and shrubs within Seattle’s urban forest create a strong, positive sense of place reflective of the Puget Sound region’s natural richness. These green oases also contribute to a healthy environment for people; they provide restorative, educational, and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

Our hemlocks, firs, and cedars provide habitat for birds and other wildlife that are disappearing in alarming numbers. Exceptional and heritage trees, grouped and individual, are the irreplaceable foundation of the urban forest. These established trees add economic value to urban neighborhoods. These trees ensure that neighborhoods are livable.

Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Photo: Ben Legler

Trees are a front line defense against and mitigation for climate change. Over the next 50 years, even with aggressive emissions reductions, temperatures will more than double Seattle’s days of extreme heat (pers. comm., June 24, 2019, Marcia Brown, Anthropogenic Warming and Public Health Consequences in Seattle and Spokane, University of Washington).

The presence of trees reduces local temperatures. Trees are a cost-effective way of cleaning smoke from the air. With increased smoke from wildfires, it is imperative to preserve and protect mature trees within our state’s cities. Trees also help control the stormwater resulting from heavier rainfalls. We need to increase the urban canopy, not stand by while it dwindles to nothing.

Protecting trees within urban areas contributes to environmental justice within the city as well as to regional ecologic health. Mature trees benefit the most vulnerable—residents without access to shelter and air conditioning, children walking to school, and elders out exercising. Protecting trees does not preclude dense development. Vancouver, to the north, has both significantly more trees and higher population density.

It would be a shame for Seattle, the Emerald City, to lose its trees. We must protect the trees we have now, as well as planting saplings that will shade future generations.

Among Seattle residents there is strong support for a robust urban forest, and for government that protects the city’s exceptional and heritage trees. Washington Native Plant Society members, many of whom volunteer in city parks and green spaces, understand that the tree canopy contributes to the public good and can’t be quickly replaced.

Western red cedar (Thuja plicata). Photo: Ben Legler

As our member Michael Marsh so aptly put it, “An exact parallel to removing a 70-year-old tree and replacing it with two saplings would be replacing an experienced City Council Member with two 3-year-olds.” We trust that you understand. The current rate of loss is unacceptable and fails to take into account the many benefits of trees.

The Washington Native Plant Society and our Central Puget Sound Chapter urge you to slow and reverse Seattle’s tree loss by updating the tree protection ordinance this year.

WNPS Editor’s Note 2: If you are interested in learning more about the Seattle Tree Ordinance, these three groups will help you follow it: Friends of Urban ForestsDon’t Clearcut Seattle, and TreePAC. You may also want to learn about the Last 6,000 Campaign, which aims to locate Seattle’s remaining majestic trees.

Not in Seattle? The benefits of urban and community forests stretch beyond the city limits. The website of the Washington State Urban And Community Forestry Program is a good starting place to learn more about how trees provide economic, environmental, psychological, and aesthetic benefits. The program can provide assistance for planting and sustaining healthy trees and vegetation. Similarly, the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program provides a national lens on the subject. 

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest Note – You can support the efforts of the Washington Native Plant Society by donating or becoming a member. Go to

Organizations Supporting Resolution in Support of the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s Draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance

Submit your Group’s Resolution of Support

Seattle’s current tree ordinance is outdated and failing to protect our urban forest. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) has submitted their recommended updates to the Mayor and City Council.

Let the Mayor, City Council and council candidates know that your group supports the UFC’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection ordinance.

List of organizations that have endorsed the Resolution: 

32nd District Democrats

34th District Democrats

36th District Democrats

43rd District Democrats

46th District Democrats

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

Interurban Trail Tree Preservation Society

King County Democrats

Mt Baker Meaningful Movies

National Organization of Women Seattle Chapter

Neighborhood Treekeepers

Phinney Ridge Community Council

Seattle Green Spaces Coalition

South Seattle Climate Action Network

Thornton Creek Alliance

Tree PAC

Seattle Again Delays Enacting New Tree Protection Ordinance

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

Seattle Again Delays Enacting New Tree Protection Ordinance

Dear Tree Protection Advocates,

Unfortunately once again the Seattle City Council and Mayor are doing what they have done for the last ten years. They are again, while trees continue to be cut down, opting for more studies rather than passing an updated Tree Protection Ordinance now. We already know the tree ordinance isn’t working to save trees according to the City’s  recent Tree Regulations Research Project Report and other information.

The  Seattle Urban Forestry Commission has been working for the last 10 years  providing the Mayor and City Council  with recommendations and in June, at the Council’s request, provided them with a draft ordinance update based on these recommendations and recent Council resolutions on what should be addressed.  Rather than consider this draft, they want to start over.

On Wednesday, Sept 11, 2019, the Council Finance and Neighborhoods Committee will meet from 2-4 PM in Council chamber to discuss and pass another resolution: 

Res 31902 A RESOLUTION declaring the City Council’s and the Mayor’s intent to consider strategies to protect trees and increase Seattle’s tree canopy cover. 
Central Staff Memo
Summary and Fiscal Note

Rather than starting  over we urge the Council to consider adopting, after review, the Urban Forestry Commission’s June 2019 draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance.

Here is the Draft Urban Forestry Commission’s Ordinance:
Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance  

You can send the Mayor and City Council a quick e-mail urging they adopt the Urban Forestry Commission’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance.  We have lost enough trees in Seattle already.  We do not need more studies for another year as trees continue to be cut down every day.

Go to 
Send an e-mail by clicking on the Take Action button.
Add your own comments to personalize the message.

Steve Zemke

Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance – a Project of Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and TreePAC.

PS  Help is needed now with donations to fund our campaign.
Click on the donate link below to give a campaign donation via to help update the tree ordinance. Money will help pay for yard signs, printing and other expenses.Thanks.

  Donate here


Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest 
Tree PAC
Don’t Clearcut Seattle


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Resolution urging passage of Seattle UFC draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance

Resolution in Support of Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s 

 Draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance

Whereas Seattle is not only losing its big trees but many others as developers frequently are scraping lots clean of trees to maximize their building sites, and

Whereas Seattle is not requiring developers to replace all exceptional trees and trees over 24” DBH (diameter at 54” high) removed, as prescribed by SMC 25.11.090, and

Whereas, unlike Portland and other major cities, Seattle has not instituted a Tree Removal and Replacement permit system on either developed property or property being developed but only relies on a complaint-based system on developed property that is not protecting trees, and

Whereas the Seattle City Council (“the Council”) voted in 2009 and again in Resolution 31870 in April 2019 to support updating its Tree Protection Ordinance,and

Whereas in 2017 in its Tree Regulations Research Report, the city  found that “Current code is not supporting tree protection” and “we are losing exceptional trees (and groves) in general.”, and

Whereas Seattle’s trees and urban forest are vital green infrastructure in Seattle that reduces air pollution and stormwater runoff, reduces climate change impacts like heat island effects, provides essential habitat for birds and other wildlife, and is important for both physical and mental health for people living in Seattle, and

Whereas the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission has drafted, at the suggestion of several Council members, an updated Tree Protection Ordinance that is consistent with the eight recommendations the Council adopted in Section 6 of Resolution 31870 in April 2019, and

Whereas the draft ordinance would:

  1. Increase protections for Seattle trees and tree canopy volume by requiring tree removal and replacement permits for all significant trees (over 6” DBH) removed on both developed property and property being developed on all land use zones in the city;
  2. Require 2 week posting of tree removal and replacement applications on site as SDOT does;
  3. Require  tree replacement on site, which in 25 years, is equivalent to the tree canopy volume removed or require a fee paid into a Tree Replacement and Preservation Fund to plant and maintain for 5 years the trees elsewhere in the city;
  4. Retain current protections for exceptional trees and reduce upper threshold for exceptional trees to 24” DBH;
  5. Allow no more than 2 significant non-exceptional trees to be removed over 3 years on developed property;
  6. Require registration of all tree services providers with the city;
  7. Track all significant tree loss and replacement; and
  8. Provide adequate funds to administer and enforce the ordinance.

Therefore, be it resolved that we support the efforts of the Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance to update and strengthen Seattle’s current ordinance. We urge the Mayor and Seattle City Council to pass the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s June 15, 2019 draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance and to enforce it.

Please let the Mayor and City Council know that your organization has adopted this resolution. Send your message easily and quickly by going to and click on the link “Organizational Support”

We will also add your organization’s name to our list of organizations supporting adopting the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance.


Action Needed Now on Draft Tree Protection Ordinance

Action Needed Now to Protect Seattle’s Trees and Urban Forest

Urge Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Council members to provide strong leadership now to pass legislation this year to significantly strengthen Seattle’s current Tree Protection Ordinance.

Seattle’s urban forest is an integral and vital part of our city.  It provides many benefits and amenities to those living in our city. Research has shown that retaining existing trees and planting new trees is one of the best ways to mitigate our climate crisis.    Trees help clean our air and enhance public health, reduce stormwater runoff, decrease the impacts of heat and wind, provide habitat for birds and wildlife and give us a connection with nature in our neighborhoods.

Seattle’s rapid growth is reducing these beneficial impacts as trees are removed. It is urgent that Seattle act now to stop the continued loss of trees, particularly large trees and exceptional trees and tree groves, and to promote environmental equity as we replace and plant more trees to increase our tree canopy.

Urge the Mayor and City Council to adopt the draft revisions for the Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance that the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission submitted in June 2019 to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and the Seattle City Council. The updated draft would:

  1. Expand the existing tree removal and replacement permit program, including 2-week public notice and posting, as used by the Seattle Department of transportation (SDOT) – to cover all trees 6” DBH and larger on private property in all land use zones, both during development and outside development.
  2. Require the replacement of all trees removed that are 6” DBH and larger with trees that in 25 years will reach equivalent canopy volume – either on site or pay an in-lieu fee into a City Tree Replacement and Preservation Fund. Allow the Fund to also accept fines, donations, grants and set up easements.
  3. Retain current protections for Exceptional Trees and reduce the upper threshold for exceptional trees to 24” DBH, protect tree groves and prohibit trees over 6”DBH being removed on undeveloped lots. 
  4. Allow removal of no more than 2  significant non-exceptional trees in 3 years per lot outside development
  5. Establish one citywide database for applying for tree removal and replacement permits and to track changes in the tree canopy.  Post online all permit requests and permit approvals for public viewing.
  6. Expand SDOT’s existing tree service provider’s registration and certification to include all tree service providers working on trees in Seattle.
  7. Provide adequate funding in the budget to implement and enforce the updated ordinance.

Please let the Mayor and City Council know you support the 7 items above as recommended by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission by copying  and pasting them in an email to send to the Mayor and Seattle City Council in support of updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. They need to hear from you. Add your own personal comments and reasons for support.

Send to,

 and to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission for posting as public comment  on the UFC draft ordinance –

Thank you for your help.

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance