E-mails Needed to Save Aurora Ave N Sweetgum Trees

Please send an e-mail to Seattle City officials to help save the Aurora Ave N Sweetgum street trees  from being cut down..
Click on the link below to do it quickly through Action Network. Thanks.
Don’t Clearcut Seattle is a project of TreePAC. They maintain the action network website.
Donations to TreePAC are needed to support their work  protecting existing urban trees and efforts to plant more trees to increase our urban canopy. Please donate today. Thanks.

Please Amend draft SDCI Tree Protection Ordinance to Strengthen Protection for Trees

Send Letter to Mayor Bruce Harrell and Seattle City Council:

bruce.harrell@seattle.gov   council@seattle.gov

Dear Mayor Harrell and the Seattle City Council,

Please act to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. It’s been 13 years since the Seattle City Council first urged the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) to update the ordinance. We appreciate the recent enactment by the Seattle City Council and Mayor to adopt registration of Tree Service Providers in the city as a first step. We also appreciate action finally by SDCI to release a more complete draft of an updated Tree Protection Ordinance.

The draft Tree Protection Ordinance is currently under a Hearing Examiner appeal by the Master Builders of King and Snohomish County and six development companies. Their goal is to delay and potentially weaken the ordinance. We believe that Seattle needs to protect its existing trees while planting more trees in underserved areas with low tree canopy to address adverse climate impacts while also increasing affordable housing. It is not a question of one or the other. We need to do both.

Trees and the urban forest comprise vital green infrastructure needed to keep our city and people livable and healthy. Trees reduce air pollution, storm water runoff and climate impacts like heat island effects, while providing essential habitat for birds and other wildlife. They are important for the physical and mental health of our residents. A robust urban forest is critical for climate resilience and environmental equity.

Seattle’s rapid growth and increased density combined with an outdated tree ordinance are reducing these beneficial effects as trees are removed without serious consideration of ways to incorporate more of them in the development. Unless exceptional there is no real effort to save them. And what replacement requirements were in the ordinance since 2001 appears to have seldom been enforced. It is urgent to act now to reduce this continued loss of existing trees, particularly large mature trees and tree groves. It is important to promote environmental equity by retaining as many trees as possible and replacing those removed for climate resiliency.

We support the following provisions in SDCI’s draft ordinance.

1. Lowering the upper limit for exceptional trees to 24” Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) from 30” DBH.
2. Continuing protection for exceptional trees less than 24” DBH and tree groves and heritage trees
3. Defining any tree 6” DBH and larger that is not exceptional as a significant tree
4. Continuing prohibition on removal of trees 6” DBH and larger on undeveloped lots.
5. Requiring replacement of 12” DBH and larger trees removed by developers
6. Creating an in-lieu fee for developers to replace trees 12” DBH and larger that cannot be replaced on the development site.
7. Requiring in lieu fees be used to replace and maintain newly planted trees
8. Limiting removal of significant trees outside development to those less than 12” DBH
9. Protected trees and replaced trees are covered by a covenant for life of project

Here are key provisions that need to be added to the draft ordinance:

1.Expand the existing Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Tree Removal and Replacement Permit Program using the Accela database system to include SDCI to cover all significant trees 6” DBH and larger, and all exceptional trees, on private property in all land use zones, both during development and outside development.
2. Require SDCI submit quarterly reports to the Office of Sustainability and Environment on tree removal and replacement as required by other City Departments
3. Require 2-week public notice posting, as SDOT does on-site, and add online, of any 6’” DBH and larger tree removal and replacement permit requests and keep posted on a lot for 1 week after removal
4. Require that tree replacement numbers increase with the size of the removed tree such that in 25 years or less they will reach equivalent canopy volume lost – either on site or pay a replacement fee that also increases with the size of the tree removed
5. All replacement in lieu fees and fines should go into a dedicated Tree Replacement and Preservation Fund (not SDCI budget or city general fund), that yearly reports on their budget to the City Council and Mayor.
6. Allow the Tree Replacement and Preservation Fund to also accept fines, donations, grants, purchase land, set up covenants and for educational purposes.
7. Require 5-year maintenance of replanted trees
8. Allow removal of no more than 2 Significant non-exceptional trees in 3 years per lot outside development
9. Require developers throughout the total development process to maximize the retention of existing trees with adequate space for trees to grow and survive.
10. Require a Tree Inventory of all trees 6” DBH and larger and a Tree Landscaping Plan prior to any building permits being approved.
11. Extend ordinance to cover all land use zones, including Industrial, Downtown and Institutions
12. Keep requirement that all 6” DBH and larger trees be on site plans
13. Require tree replacement or in lieu fees by developers for trees removed 1 year prior to property purchase
14. Allow city certified inspectors to enter property if necessary to ascertain any illegal tree activity
15. Provide adequate funding in the budget to implement and enforce the updated ordinance
16. All trees replaced are protected trees and not subject to removal
17. Require removal of invasive plants, like ivy, from development sites



Letter to SDCI and Seattle Mayor regarding attempted illegal tree removal

The following letter points out the need for tree removal permits in Seattle. Without them trees can be illegally removed and most of the removals happen without the ability for anyone to respond. Many go unnoticed or not reported, this was only caught because of a neighbor being aware in advance of the attempted illegal removal.
Many other cities require permits to remove trees. Seattle in most cases does not on private property. Tree Removal and Replacement Permits have been required for the last 9 years by the Seattle Dept. of Transportation. The Seattle Dept. of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) has no permit system to remove trees. The SDCI Director has long had the authority to require permits to enforce the Tree Protection Ordinance (SMC 25.11.090) but has chosen not to do that.
The Seattle City Council needs to add a requirement for permits to remove trees 6″ DBH and larger. A permit system can significantly reduce illegal tree cutting and can also provide the city with needed tracking on tree loss and replacement bot outside development and during development.
Hello Director Torgelson,
It is critical that SDCI provide enforcement services for illegal tree cutting on weekends and holidays. Illegal tree removals are intentionally scheduled for days when there is no enforcement. Stumps of exceptional trees are ground out immediately to ensure no evidence remains.
The KIRO7 news story linked below highlights a practice tree advocates know is widespread. Developers buy a property, then arrange for it to be illegally stripped of trees prior to the closing. These removals usually occur on holidays and weekends. Below is a KIRO7 story from this holiday weekend.
Here are specifics on the attempted removals at 827 NE 98th. I am also submitting this to the SDCI portal:
The property is currently owned by Sojourner Land Trust and the home was occupied until recently by “Lou” a principal in the trust. Lou informed her neighbors Cheryl and Sam Kordick several months ago that she was selling her property to a developer.
Arborist Andy Crossett, Tree Frog LLC, 206-310-8254 visited the site during the week of 3/28/22. He met Ms. Kordick and told her he worked for a developer. He stated the property had “two exceptional Douglas firs of DBH above 30” in the back, and that he would also examine a large fir in the front.
On 5/27/22, Ms. Kordick received a text from Lou stating that “the trees will be coming down this weekend” and “I wish the buyer could take care of this after the sale but now we’ve run out of time” and “we don’t need permits.” Ms. Kordick reached out to tree protection advocates who checked the permit portal and saw that no permit was evident.
On 5/28/22, tree protection advocates went to Ms. Kordick’s home, where Southfork Tree Service had arrived. “Brian” of Southfork confirmed that he would be removing the two firs in back and that “we are licensed, bonded and insured” and “we have permits” which he could not produce when asked. Sam Kordick requested to speak with the new owner and was given a contact for “Bobby at Legacy” who was not reachable.
A small crowd gathered in the Kordick’s yard to watch the tree removal. One person stood directly underneath the tree canopy which prevented its removal. Workers said “we can’t take it down because you’re in the way” several times. As they were leaving, Brian shouted “all I did was prune it!”
Attached are photos of the Southfork truck and workers. A 28-minute long video of the cutting activity is at this YouTube link; the conversation between workers and bystanders starts around minute 21:  https://youtu.be/WvpLzVwdC34
In this dual climate-change and housing crisis, the way forward is to build more housing while retaining our large trees. We won’t be able to do this if we allow unscrupulous people to decimate our urban forest on weekends and holidays.
Kind regards,
Sandy Shettler
“There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It’s called a tree.” – George Monbiot

Why is Seattle SDCI dragging its heels on setting up a tree removal and replacement permit system?

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development (SDCI) has been dragging its heels for years on setting up a permit system for tree removal and replacement. Many other cites require permits to remove trees. Permits help to reduce illegal tree removal and allow cities to track tree loss and replacement.
The Seattle Council urged SDCI in Council Resolution 31902 to consider a permit system to remove trees 6″ DBH and larger (diameter at 4.5 feet above ground). SDCI with OSE held “listening sessions” with 29 people (including 10 members of the development community) and concluded the public didn’t support permits. Twenty nine respondents is not statistically valid,
Meanwhile a poll done by the Northwest Progressive Institute last year found that Seattle voters favored requiring permits to remove trees by a 2 to 1 margin. The results were 57% supporting to 28% opposing, with 15% unsure. (Poll of 617 likely Seattle voters, 4.3% margin of error, 95% confidence level)
Other cities are tracking tree loss and replacement on private property doing it with the same Accela database system that Seattle uses. Even Seattle’s Department of Transportation is using it for their permits for tree removal and replacement of street trees.
A permit system can be set up now without the need to update the current Tree Protection Ordinance. The existing Tree Protection Ordinance states in SMC 25.11.100 Enforcement and Penalties A.  Authority 1. that “The  Director shall have authority to enforce the provisions of this Chapter 25.11, to issue permits, impose conditions and establish penalties for violations of applicable law or rules by registered tree service providers, establish administrative procedures and guidelines, conduct inspections, and prepare the forms and publish Director’s Rules that may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Chapter 25.11.”  (Note – Highlighting done by author to focus on key phrasing and authority)
Entering permits on a database system allows a city to track tree loss and replacement. With posting requirements and online database systems, people can confirm that trees are being removed under city ordinances and not illegally. Seattle’s tree protection enforcement is currently based on trusting people are cutting down trees legally. That is often not the case. Citizens only option is a complaint-based system which doesn’t work. Once you hear a chainsaw it is almost always impossible to stop trees coming down. Often work is done on weekends and holidays when city offices are closed.
Here are some other cities (and associated information) that are using an online Accela database system to set up permits for removing trees. Also included is SDOT’s  link to their system in Seattle.
Tacoma: Accela
Lake Forest Park: Accela
Atlanta, GA: Accela
Arborists Division Contacts
Seattle, WA: Accela
SDOT also requires 2 weeks posting of a permit application on the site, reason tree is being removed and  city contact information for questions.
Portland , Oregon: Excell 
Portland does their permits using Excell online.  They require developers to use the system to produce and file a Tree Inventory along with a Tree Plan before a building permit is issued.  Seattle should do the same.  Seattle currently does not require developers to do a tree inventory or tree plan before a building permit is issued.

Urge Seattle City Council to Pass CB 120207 this Tues. March 29th to Require Tree Service Provider Registration

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

Dear Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest,


Last Wednesday, the Seattle City Council Land Use Committee passed a key component in our effort to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. All 5 committee members voted to forward Council bill 120207 – An ordinance relating to land use and urban forestry adding a tree service provider registration procedure and requirement” to the full City Council for a vote on Tuesday, March 29 starting at 2 PM.This ordinance update is needed to help stop illegal tree removal in the city and to ensure that Tree Care Providers are knowledgeable of the existing tree code and regulations. If operating out of compliance, they will face fines for violations and after 2 violations are prohibited from working in the city for a year. The companies must be registered also as contractors with the state, carry adequate insurance and have workers compensation for their employees in case they are injured on the job.
Email Seattle City Council and Mayor
Click on the link above to send a pre-written e-mail that you can edit.
The Seattle Department of Transportation has required such registration for nine years for contractors working on street trees. Spokane Washington also requires registration for all Tree Service Providers working on public trees.  Eight states require similar registration of Tree Service Providers doing work on both public and private property – California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Seattle needs to follow suit.We need your help to ensure this bill passes the full City Council on Tuesday and is signed by Mayor Bruce Harrell. Please send the e-mail letter linked below with any added personal comments and stories of why this legislation is needed to the City Council and Mayor. Thanks for your help.You can also help by calling Council members offices and urging they pass this much needed legislation. You can see their contact information here.If you want to testify for the bill, you can sign up starting 2 hours before the 2 PM meeting time on Tuesday March 29th.  Public comment is at the beginning of the meeting. It will probably be limited to 1 minute. It will be via a phone call.PUBLIC COMMENT Members of the public may sign up to address the Council for up to 2 minutes on matters on this agenda; total time allotted to public comment at this meeting is 20 minutes. Register online to speak during the Public Comment period at the 2:00 p.m. City Council meeting at http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/public-comment. Online registration to speak at the City Council meeting will begin two hours before the 2:00 p.m. meeting start time, and registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair
Thanks for your help!Steve ZemkeChair – Friends of  Seattle’s Urban Forest

Donations are welcome to help us continue coalition efforts. Thank-you.Contribute to TreePAC

States Requiring Tree Service Provider Registration

Tree Service Providers Licensing in 8 states
  • New Jersey Board of Tree Experts 

“Licensing legislation was proposed by industry groups and passed by the New Jersey legislature on January 16, 2010. The legislation is known as the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act and on April 17, 2017, the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Law’s rules were adopted and promulgated.

The Act creates a licensing program under which individuals may become Licensed Tree Experts (LTEs) or Licensed Tree Care Operators (LTCOs) by passing an examination and demonstrating good moral character. Licensees will be required to complete continuing education requirements, abide by standards of professional conduct and ethics, and adhere to safety standards, as well as industry practice standards. No individual shall represent himself or herself to the public as a licensed tree expert or a licensed tree care operator or use any title, designation, word(s), letter, or abbreviations tending to indicate that such individual is a licensed tree expert or a licensed tree care operator without obtaining licensure as a tree expert by the Board of Tree Experts.”

NJ Arborists ISA -“Every company performing tree work in N.J. must have at least one employee who is licensed. In order to receive a license, people must meet certain minimum qualifications and then pass an exam”
  • Minnesota
Tree Care Industry Association – ‘Most cities in Minnesota require arborists to be licensed by the respective city if the company wishes to perform tree work within the city limits. Many communities require tree care companies working on publicly owned trees to employ ISA Certified arborists and register with the community as a licensed tree care company
  • Burnsville, Minnesota 
TREE CONTRACTOR LICENSING – Issued To Any business that cuts, trims, prunes, removes, sprays or otherwise treats trees or shrubs

Application for Tree Contractor License

Wm Todd Barry, Bakersfild.com 2017  “In California, a state license is required to trim a tree taller than 15 feet, and the contractor is required to cover his crew with workers compensation insurance. If the tree trimmer is not a licensed contractor, the liability for workers’ injuries rests with the homeowner, who is considered to be the “employer.” In most cases, homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover injuries or deaths when unlicensed contractors have been hired. Injured workers and survivors can sue homeowners for damages.”
blog.davey.com -“Never assume you’re dealing with a licensed and bonded tree service—always ask! This is crucial, because if you hire a company or individual without these credentials, you could be held liable for any on-the-job injuries or damages to your tree and property. A reliable tree service should have no problem providing you with license and insurance information before taking on a job.”
  • Connecticut
Commercial Arborist License – “An arborist license is required for persons advertising, soliciting or contracting to do arboriculture in Connecticut. As defined in the arborist law, “arboriculture means any work done for hire to improve the condition of fruit, shade, or ornamental trees by feeding or fertilizing, or by pruning, trimming, bracing, treating cavities or other methods of improving tree conditions, or protecting trees from damage from insects or diseases or curing these conditions by spraying or any other method.” The licensed arborist is a supervisory pesticide applicator, with respect to the use of pesticides.  For all intents and purposes “certificate” means “license.”
  • Maine 
Arborist Licensing – “Anyone performing arborist services in Maine must first obtain an arborist license. An arborist license allows an individual to work independently in arboriculture. Candidates for an arborist license must pass a test in either landscape, utility or both categories demonstrating knowledge, skill and capability to safely and professionally provide arborist services to the public.”
“All tree care professionals practicing in Maryland must obtain a license. Without a license, they may not practice or advertise tree care services in the state. To obtain a license, the applicant must possess adequate and related college education plus one year of experience under a LTE or have three years experience under a Licensed Tree Expert (LTE), then have passed an exam and carry adequate amounts of liability and property damage insurance. The license is a two year license renewed in December.”
  • Rhode Island 
“Rhode Island requires that all practitioners of arboriculture be licensed. The Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator oversees the licensing and exams for arborists working in RI. This includes all Tree Wardens, as defined in RI General Law § 2-14. In 2019 there were more than 700 arborists licensed in RI.”
  • Louisiana 
Louisiana Horticulture Commission
Arborist license – Authorizes the holder to make recommendations or execute tree surgery type work including tree removal, pruning, trimming, cabling, fertilization and cavity work. Licensees must enter into a written contract with property owners specifying work to be done and sum to be paid. Property owners should ask to see a current copy of the arborist’s certificate of insurance.
“Anyone doing tree work in Louisiana is required to obtain a license through the LDAF,” Strain said. “Hiring only licensed-professional arborists protects you, the homeowner, since licensed arborists are not only trained to properly execute tree work, but they must also maintain liability insurance.
  • General comment
Look for Proper Certification:
Tree removal is a specialized service and can be dangerous work, so it’s wise to find a tree removal service with proper training. To determine qualifications, look for a tree service that holds an accredited certification from an industry-wide organization. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) offer certification in arboriculture. You can also search their database for certified arborists and verify their qualifications.Any reputable tree removal company will have at least one certified arborist on staff. Look for tree removal safety standards, such as a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP) as well. In addition, tree removal companies should follow the proper tree removal guidelines as established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).”

Types of Insurance Coverage:

“There are different types of insurance coverage that a contractor may carry. When you contact their insurance company, clarify the specifics.

  • Liability insurance ensures that the company will pay for damages to your home or possessions.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance holds the company responsible, not you, if an employee is injured while working on the job. Not only does this protect you, hiring a contractor with its employee’s best interest in mind means they are more likely to follow safety guidelines.

Being bonded essentially means that whomever you hire has a line of credit in place that will guarantee that any work contracted will be completed or, if they are unable to perform the work, the bond issuer will reimburse you. Being bonded also means the company complies with permit regulations required to complete the job.”

IS Your Service Provider a Licensed, Bonder and Insured Tree Service provider?

“Insurance requirements will also vary from state to state. For example, in Minnesota, any business performing work on a tree over 12 feet tall must have workman’s compensation insurance. In Massachusetts, a landscaper’s insurance covers only 10 feet above the ground and is different from policies that specifically cover tree work.

Although every state has different requirements for licensed tree contractors, just as with any kind of service on your property, hiring a licensed, bonded contractor will protect you—and them—from potential injury or property damages.”

  • Spokane, Washington – “Under Spokane Municipal Code (SMC) Section 10.25.010, a Commercial Tree Service License is required for any person or entity retained or hired to perform work on street trees in the City of Spokane Right-of-Way (ROW) or on public trees as defined in SMC 12.02.952.”

           Commercial Tree Service License Application 

Seattle Releases Draft Tree Protection Ordinance – Coalition Zoom Meeting this Saturday – Comments due Thursday March 3rd

SDCI releases draft Tree Protection Ordinance update – Your chance to comment to SDCI

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) has released their long-awaited draft Tree ordinance. The current deadline to comment and respond to the draft and the SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) is March 3rd.

The Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance, Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest,  Tree PAC and other groups will be holding a briefing on what’s in the draft and discussing a coordinated response to the City this Saturday.

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.When: Sat, Feb 26, 2022, 10:00 AM – noon Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in Advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZItdOyuqzsiEtf7D2cozRNdBBMpNZyfN6MY

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Quick comparison of drafts with current ordinance (SMC 25.11):

SDCI draft

Urban Forestry Commission draft

SMC 25.11 – Tree Protection

large exceptional trees protected

24″ DBH plus Director Rule

24″ DBH plus Director’s Rule

30″ DBH plus Director’s Rule.

trees on site plan

12″ DBH and larger

6″ DBH and larger

6″ DBH and larger

estimate SF zone trees covered




SEPA appeal possible




Replacement fee in lieu for developers




in lieu fee goes to  

SDCI general budget

Replacement and Preservation Fund

no fund

exceptional trees that can be removed outside development

none, unless hazardous

none, unless hazardous

none, unless hazardous

significant trees that can be removed by property owners outside development

3 – 12″DBH trees/year

2 significant trees in 3 years

3 significant trees/yr

Developers required to replace significant trees

Trees 12” DBH to 24” DBH

Trees 6” DBH to 24” DBH

No replacement required

register tree care providers

Yes -separate bill



permits for removing significant trees on private property

Voluntary reporting



2 week posting permits on site/on-line




tree inventory before building permit issued




tree replacement based on tree size for developers

one tree upon maturity roughly proportional to canopy removed

more trees required as removed tree diameter increases, 25 years to replace canopy lost

one tree upon maturity that reaches equivalent canopy of removed tree

Tree replacement required for trees removed 1 year before property purchased




Maximize retention of significant trees during entire development process




Covers all land use zones in the city

No –excludes industrial, downtown and others



Several major issues of concern with SDCI draft:

  • reduces inventory of trees on development sites in single family from 45% to 18%
  • makes all decisions by SDCI regarding implementation of SMC 25.11 final and not appealable to a Hearing Examiner
  • does not require maximizing the retention of existing trees on development sites
  • replacement trees by developers only 1 for1 no matter size of tree removed
  • minimal inclusion of provisions recommended to be included by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission

Send comments on draft and SEPA to gordon.clowers@seattle.gov – deadline Thur. March 3, 2022.

  • Urge 2-week extension from March 3rd to allow people more time to analyze draft and respond
  • Urge SDCI drop proposal to use Master Use Permit 1 classification when implementing SMC 25.11


You can see all 2 additional links on draft Director’s Rules here – SDCI – NOTICE OF DETERMINATION OF NON-SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE TREE PROTECTION CODE UPDATE 

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

https://www.instagram.com/friendsofseattlesurbanforest/https://twitter.com/ForestsUrbanhttps://www.facebook.com/FriendsofSeattlesUrbanForestContributions to support our efforts are always welcome. Click here to donate.

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 patricia.bakker@seattle.gov.

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 http://www.seattle.gov/urbanforestrycommission.

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.