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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunny Day for Solar Array on Shoreline City Hall

Largest in City
Posted Date:3/30/2010 
City of Shoreline website article
The City of Shoreline and non-profit Shoreline Solar Project are pleased to invite the community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, March 31, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., to celebrate the new 20.2 kW solar electric system -- the largest solar photovotaic (PV) system in Shoreline -- on Shoreline City Hall's parking garage. 
Shoreline based Northwest Mechanical, Inc., installed the Made-in-Washington solar modules from Arlington-based Silicon Energy. 

The solar array generates electric power while also providing 
shade for a row of cars on the upper parking level. Seattle City 
Light provided assistance for solar modules and system 
display and monitoring services in conjunction with 
the Bonneville Education Foundation.

The celebration includes a tour highlighting Shoreline 
City Hall's extensive energy saving "green" features and a free 
"Solar 101" seminar covering solar electric and solar hot 
water systems by Shoreline Solar Project's co-founder 
Larry Owens. The Shoreline Solar Project has been 
promoting solar installations in the City of Shoreline for 
the past six years.

Shoreline Deputy Mayor Will Hall will be speaking and other 
City Councilmembers will be attending. Besides City and 
Shoreline Solar Project officials, participants include 
representatives from the other organizations that 
helped make this a successful project including Northwest 
Mechanical, Seattle City Light, Bonneville Environmental 
Foundation, Silicon Energy, Rainier Industries and OPUS 
(the contractor that built City Hall).
For more information, contact Shoreline Solar Project at 
(206) 306-9233 or Shoreline Environmental Programs 
Coordinator Rika Cecil at (206) 801-2452,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who Dun It? - The Southwoods Tree Caper

At Least 16 Significant Trees Cut in Shoreline's Southwoods Park!

The incident took place originally in November '09 on Thanksgiving. A citizen observed trees being removed from the park by at least two individuals, a truck loaded with logs leaving the Shorecrest Parking lot next to Southwoods. This new park was created with funds from the 2006 Shoreline Parks Bond, after many years of advocacy from citizens to protect the nearly 16 acre site which is an unusually large forested area, formerly owned by Shoreline Schools ad Shoreline Water District.

The witness had taken down the license plate # of the truck and noted that many of the trees were freshly cut near the main trail crossing the park.

So, on Thanksgiving Day, the citizens contacted Charlie and Bettelinn Brown who called to report the incident to the KC Sheriff's office and a deputy came out to their home to discuss what happened.  Charlie had walked the park and counted at least 16 stumps and sawdust showing recent cutting of the logs nearby. The Sheriff's Deputy investigated and spoke to the witness.

Apparently, the license plate check revealed that the plate was stolen! So City staff and police have been unable to identify the perpetrators of this theft.

You can see by the above photo depicting SWPG member Charlie Brown demonstrating the size of this tree which was cut, that this was a very deliberate and significant theft of our publicly owned trees, which were of a very "significant" size. This particular double trunk tree appears to have been
about 2-3ft in circumfrance. (Charlie is holding up a "weed wrench" on loan from the City to show the size of this tree cut. These devices are available to citizens who would like to remove such weeds as Holly or Scots Broom).

We attended an "Ivy Out" event at Southwoods last weekend and photographed the damage and also witnessed the dedicated work of SWPG (South Woods Preservation Group) and neighbors who have been doing careful stewardship work there for the many years, to remove invasive plants such as English Ivy, English Holly, Himilayan Blackberry, Laurel hedge and other invasive plants which had taken over a large percentage of this park property over the last 50 years.  The Ivy and Holly are especially destructive, by crowding out natives and smothering the native growth there.

If anyone has information about this incident, please call the Shoreline Police Department and/or Shoreline Parks Director Dick Deal 206-801-2630 or Parks Maintenance Superintendent Kirk Peterson 206-8012610 and report it.

Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Or, if you ever witness any similar incidents of tree cutting or vandalism, please report them to the City and Police.

All trees in Parks are protected under the City's care, though if a tree should be deemed a "hazardous tree" it can be removed by City staff.   Please help us care for our parks. Citizens are the "eyes and ears" for City staff.

 If you see something, say something!

 These trees belong to the taxpayers and residents of Shoreline! Vandalism is a crime YOU can help solve by reporting incidents and documenting what happened. Thanks for caring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Open Letter to Editors - Working for Clean Water Bill - Lets Pass This Bill, It's a No Brainer!

This important bill is now before our State Legislators. Sightline Institute's Daily has been covering this issue extensively.

"Oil's Slick Politics" by Eric DePlace

 Please send your letter to your local paper, like this -
(Should be 250 words or less for Seattle Times).

Dear Editor,

The Working for Clean Water Bill is the best chance in decades for our
State to truly make a difference for Puget Sound and other important
waterways. But now, the industries that cause the most harm are 

making excuses and asking to avoid responsibility.

It is well known that toxics like oil and fertilizers are the greatest
cause of our water quality problems, killing wildlife and making our
beaches and shellfish habitat off limits. But, as described in the

Jim Brunner article "Gas-station owners want tax overturned", oil companies
and gas station owners are now suing the State to "get out of jail
free". They want to undermine the Hazardous Substances Tax passed 22
years ago.

I have worked for over 20 years on restoration projects in the Thornton
Creek Watershed
, most notably to get the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel at Northgate done.

This prize-winning project is universally seen to benefit to our urban watershed.
I've also worked in Shoreline to get LID (Low Impact Development) technologies used in our 
Aurora Phase II project, providing big water quality benefits to both Boeing and
McAleer Creeks. So I know that these are exactly the types of projects
this bill could fund, bringing many green jobs to our communities.

I hope that this bill passes and that the gas and oil companies will
accept their responsibilities. It will impose a "user fee" in effect on
the very industries that are destroying our precious water resources. It
makes sense!


Janet Way
Shoreline, WA

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Urban Tree Preservation: More Than Just Landscaping

Guest Blog Post by Attorney Keith Scully

Keith is an attorney with Gendler-Mann law firm. His practice focuses on environmental and land use matters, complex commercial litigation, civil rights litigation, and appeals from both administrative decisions and trial. 

Reminder - A Shoreline Tree Information meeting takes place TONITE, Wed., 3/24 at Richmond Beach Congregational Church, 6:30- 8:30.

Urban Tree Preservation:  More Than Just Landscaping

Shoreline is on the cusp of enacting a permanent tree preservation ordinance.  In so doing, Shoreline’s elected leaders and residents must consider the myriad benefits of trees on private property, and balance that against the need to ensure that private property rights are respected, and ensure an ordinance is created that citizens will want to follow rather than resist.

Most of us are long past the point of thinking of trees as just pretty green things.  We are well-justified in our belief that trees are one of the most important components of environmental protection.  According to studies cited by the Colorado Tree Coalition, a single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings. Homeowners who properly place trees in their landscape can realize savings up to 58% on daytime air conditioning and as high as 65% for mobile homes. If applied nationwide to buildings not now benefiting from trees, the shade could reduce our nation’s consumption of oil by 500,000 barrels of oil/day.

In fact, a single large yard tree:
-                 • Absorbs 10 lbs of air pollutants, including 4 lbs of ozone and 3 lbs of particulates.
-         • Intercepts 760 gal of rainfall in its crown, thereby reducing runoff of polluted stormwater and flooding.
-         • Cleans 330 lbs of CO2 (90 lbs C) from the atmosphere through direct sequestration in the tree's wood
              and reduced power plant emissions due to cooling energy savings. This tree reduces the same amount 
              of atmospheric CO2 as released by a typical car driven 500 miles.
-         • Adds about 1% to the sales price of the property.

See . But protecting trees in an urban environment is a challenge, and, like most environmental legislation, a good tree preservation ordinance balances private property rights with environmental benefits.  Making sure private property rights are respected is valuable both because property rights have their own importance, and because regulations that are too draconian lead to dissent and lawbreaking. 

A good tree preservation ordinance recognizes the value of trees, and prevents landowners from removing especially valuable species, while still recognizing that the urban tree canopy must be able to change over time.  A good tree preservation ordinance prioritizes native species over non-native species, and places high value on species like Douglas Fir that provide extensive water quality, carbon storage, and wildlife habitat benefits.  A good tree ordinance also recognizes that trees en masse – either simply in a grove, or in a plant association with other species like salal and madrone - provides more value than do individual species.  A good tree ordinance provides incentives – like reduced setbacks, or density credits – for protecting trees, and penalties if the ordinance is violated and a valuable tree cut without ensuring that it will be mitigated with new plantings.  As for mitigation, it is not simply enough to drop a few seedlings into the ground and pretend there is no impact: tree starts must be of the right native species, and a maintenance and watering plan in place to ensure they survive the critical first few years.

 The ordinance cannot go too far – simply preventing any tree removal, without allowing some development of a particular parcel, violates the Constitution’s reasonable use guarantees.  But it also must have some genuine teeth to it, and ensure that landowners and real estate developers don’t have an economic incentive to simply cut the trees despite the ordinance because the penalty is so low that it is cost-effective to remove the tree.

As Shoreline considers its permanent tree protection measures, these important factors must be balanced to ensure its tree preservation ordinance preserves these valuable environmental assets, while at the same time recognizing that individual property owners must have some flexibility to develop their properties in order to ensure that Shoreline stays economically strong and at an appropriate urban density.

 Keith Scully

Attorney at Law
Gendler & Mann, LLP
1424 Fourth Avenue, Suite 715
Seattle, WA  98101
direct: 206.442.6831  mobile: 206.446.5491  fax: 206.621.0512

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shoreline Tree Info Meeting-

Next Shoreline Tree Information Meeting

Please turn out for the next informational meeting held by City of Shoreline.
The City is taking up the issue of creating a tree ordinance for our community. Staff are working on an existing framework for a plan which will be discussed at Planning Commission hearing in a few months.
This proposal is based on existing tree ordinances in Lake Forest Park and other neighboring cities.

Many of our neighboring cities already have tree ordinances such as LFP, Edmonds, Seattle and others like Issaquah.

Trees and Community Forestry are concepts already in our city's Vision, Comp Plan, Sustainability Strategy, and even in our City logo. 

This is your chance to express you opinion about what should be done to protect trees in our city.

Wednesday, March 24
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Richmond Beach Congregational Church
1512 Northwest 195th St

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Fisher-Lost Predator Returns to Washington

This looks fascinating. The Fisher once lived all over the Northwest. (Maybe it even lived in our Seattle area originally before European settlers and trappers).

Here is your chance to learn about the fine efforts of scientists to bring back the Fisher to the Olympic National Park wilderness areas.

: March 18, 2010
From: Adopt A Stream Foundation
NW Stream Center, 600 128th Street SE Everett WA 98208

Contacts:  Tom Murdoch,  Adopt A Stream Foundation Director – 425-316-8592
Jeffery Lewis, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist – 360-902-2374

Subject: Lost Predator Returns to Washington – Fishers

Attached: Fisher Photos – high resolution versions the attached + fisher release photos and other scenes available upon request by calling 425-316-8592

A Predator Lost Returns to Washington:With A Little Help From Some Friends
On Thursday night March 24 at 7PM, the Adopt A Stream Foundation’s Streamkeeper Academy presents: Fishers: A Predator Lost Returns to Washington...With A Little Help From Some Friends.  This presentation, which is in partnership with Snohomish County Parks and Recreation at the NW Stream Center in Mc Collum Park (600-128th Street SE Everett 98208), will be conducted byJeff Lewis, a Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife  (WDFW) Biologist.    Jeff is WDFW’s lead for the Olympic Fisher Reintroduction Project and works closely with Patti Happe, the project lead for the National Park Service (Olympic National Park), and Kurt Jenkins, the project lead from the US Geological Survey.

Fishers are  cat sized animals related to Mink, Weasels, and Otters.  They make their living by eating small mammals like rodents and snowshoe hares.  They also eat fruit and berries and help clean up dead deer.  This opportunist will also eat fish.  Unfortunately, the beautiful fur of this secretive and mysterious creature was a major attraction to the fur trade.   That beauty, combined with destruction of deep forest habitat, resulted in Fishers disappearing from Washington State by the mid-1900’s.

The Olympic Fisher Reintroduction Project  project is a collaboration of state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and many other organizations, agencies, and individuals.  It is the result of 10-years of planning and preparation that included a status review, a recovery plan, a reintroduction feasibility assessment, a reintroduction implementation plan, and an environmental assessment of the recovery plan, not to mention the ground work involved with actually doing the work.  Since January of 2008, the project has trans-located 90 fishers (50 females and 40 males) from central British Columbia to Olympic National Park in an effort to reestablish a self-sustaining fisher population in Washington State.

While a large part of the project involves getting fishers from BC and releasing them in Washington, that part is small in comparison to the effort, staff, and resources required to monitor the released fishers to determine if the project is succeeding.   “I look forward to sharing some details about fishers and the reintroduction project and explaining how and where we obtained fishers, how they were transported and released, and how we track them to monitor the success of the project,” Lewis says.  “I will also highlight some of our findings so far, predict where the project will go in the next 2-3 years, and talk about the possibility of continuing fisher recovery efforts in the Washington Cascades. Hope you can make it, it should be fun.”  Be prepared to enjoy some beautiful pictures of this beautiful predator back in the wilds of Washington.

Pre-registration by Wednesday, 23 is required by calling 425-316-8592: $5 for AASF members, $7 for non-members.  Proceeds support Streamkeeper Academy.

Photo Credit - John Jacobsen and Adopt-a-Stream

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waldo Woods and Historic Building Permanently Preserved

Oxalis (NW Shamrock)
Fresh green news for Saint Patricks Day! 

This news via the Maple Leaf Community Council, formerly headed up by David Miller (now by Marc Phillips).  In an incredible success story and against very long odds, they fought and won a battle to save this lovely grove of trees, AND saved the Historic Waldo Hospital built in 1925 too boot!  

The developer, Prescott Homes had planned to clearcut the site and remove the historic building and build 39 townhomes on the site.

But they underestimated the determination of the Mapleleaf Neighborhood, and especially David Miller and Dave Mann (Gendler, Mann).

The group used an unusual strategy in their SEPA challenge. They identified a problem with the city's analysis of environmental impacts in that the destruction of the building would result in a toxic dust (lead) that could significantly impact the neighboring residents and park. In an amazing outcome they won in Superior Court on their appeal.

Then this neighborhood organization did not stop with their win and with the Interim Tree Ordinance protecting Groves of Trees that was passed by the Seattle City Council last year.

They followed through, and found a school that was willing to remodel the building and save the trees. Now they've managed to save the trees permanently, by city statute.

What a great outcome!

March 17, 2010


** Waldo Woods Permanently Preserved ** 

(SEATTLE, WA) – The Maple Leaf Community Council Executive Board is pleased to announce the permanent preservation of Waldo Woods.

Ordinance 116794 was passed by the Seattle City Council Monday, March 8. Confirmation was received today that Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn has signed the legislation. This ordinance represents the last step in the process where the Seattle Parks Department takes possession of a conservation easement for Waldo Woods. The effect of the conservation easement is the permanent preservation of Waldo Woods, an urban grove of mature, native Douglas firs.

“When we started this process nearly four years ago,” stated Waldo Woods Working Group head David Miller, “we didn’t know whether we’d be successful or not. Through the support of hundreds of people from across Seattle, today we’ve managed to permanently save this unique grove of trees.”

The Maple Leaf Community Council applied for a King County Conservation Futures grant three years ago in the hopes of saving Waldo Woods, an intact and healthy 80 tree grove on the eastern 1/3 of the Waldo Hospital property at 15th Avenue NE and NE 85th Street in the north Seattle Maple Leaf neighborhood. The council succeeded in its pitch, and secured a $300,000 grant from King County to preserve Waldo Woods.

In March 2009, the Maple Leaf Community Council won a court case proving the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) did not adequately assess the significant environmental impact and harm to surrounding residents from the planned demolition of historic Waldo Hospital. Shortly after the loss in court, the developer planning to remove the building and most of the trees and replace them with forty townhomes averaging $650,000 each terminated their plans.

That’s when the Menachem Mendal Seattle Cheder (MMSC) Day School stepped in and bought the property with the intention of remodeling the building into a new school. They agreed to preserve Waldo Woods, and worked closely with the Seattle Parks Department and the Maple Leaf Community Council to make that happen. MMSC will trade over $600,000 in development potential for the $300,000 in King County Conservation Futures money, using this money to help remodel Waldo Hospital into their new school.

"Our community generated enough visibility for this project to result in today's outcome," noted Maple Leaf Community Council President Marc Phillips. "We're very proud our effort, joined by other groups across the city, also resulted in better tree grove preservation rules for all of Seattle."

Conservation easements do not actually transfer ownership of the property, only the development rights on that property. MMSC retains ownership of the property and will make a portion of Waldo Woods accessible to the public. MMSC, Parks, and the Maple Leaf community will cooperate to manage and maintain Waldo Woods on an ongoing basis.

The Maple Leaf Community Council would like to thank Seattle City Councilmembers Richard ConlinNick LicataTim BurgessTom RasmussenSally Clark, and Sally Bagshaw; King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson; Seattle Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher; MMSC’s Mark Goldberg; Parks Department staffers Chip Nevin and Don Harris; David Mann from the law firm of Gendler & Mann; Kathy George formerly with Cassady Law; and the hundreds of people from across Seattle who wrote letters, attended dozens of meetings, and donated money. Without considerable support from these people, this would never have happened. A special acknowledgement to Mayor Michael McGinn and the entire Seattle City Council for rapidly moving this legislation through the process.

# # #


Maple Leaf Community Council Waldo Woods Working Group subcommittee
David Miller, Chair

Maple Leaf Community Council Executive Board
Marc Phillips, President

photo credit - Thomas G Barnes, Maple Leaf Community Council

Update on KCD Election

We are very pleased to report that longtime KCD activist Max Prinsen has WON the KCD Commissioners race.

In the largest turnout ever for a King County Conservation District Election, Shoreline poll voters (anyone who voted at the Shoreline Library, including many LFP and N Seattle Voters) made a huge difference.

The voting total in this race was 4,232 which nearly doubled from the 2,757 voters in the last race in 2009.

Last night at about 7pm, it was reported that about 550 voters had cast their votes at the Shoreline Library.

There were 3 very good "green candidates" in the race (in our opinion), Max Prinsen from Renton, Kirk Prindle of Seattle and Mary Embleton also of Seattle.

According to the KCD Website -
"The final vote tallies for elected board position included Prinsen (1,772), Mara Heiman of Auburn (1,488), Mary Embleton of Seattle (519), Kirk Prindle of Seattle (402) and Teri Herrera of Redmond (51)."

In our opinion, this is a great victory for environmental voters and grass roots efforts, AND for our impacts on the election from the North End. Yesterday we received dozens of email contacts from interested voters, urging folks to get out and vote in this obscure election. 

So, even though many in the blogosphere dismissed this election as "stupid", we showed that our valiant voters in our area cared and made the difference.

Thanks to everyone who made the effort.  We will look forward to more assistance from KCD on our Urban Stream restoration efforts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

King Conservation District Election- Tuesday

Remember to Vote Tuesday at the Shoreline Branch of King County Library!

King Conservation District provides valuable services to King County residents and communties.
They administer Salmon Recovery Funding and provide expertise on projects. They also hold a "Bare Root Plant Sale" each spring and assist farmers and land owners in conservation projects.

Pictured above is our wetland pond at Paramount Park Natural Area. The wetland ponds project was done with oversight from KCD back in 1998.

2010 Board of Supervisors Election Information

The 2010 King CD Board of Supervisors Election will be held on March 16, 2010. You can view the press release noticing the election here.

Additional information regarding the King Conservation District Election can be obtained by contactingJason Chambers at (425) 282-1920.
Meet the Candidates
Please visit our candidates page to learn more about each of the five candidates running for the Board of Supervisors.
Election Day Information
King Conservation District, working with election administrator Election Trust, will provide 7 polling locations for the election on March 16th (please see list below or visit
All registered voters who reside within the District boundaries are eligible to vote in the election. District boundaries include all of King County, except the cities of Federal Way, Enumclaw, Skykomish, Milton and Pacific. Voters must present proper identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or birth certificate.

King County Library/Shoreline Branch
345 NE 175th, Shoreline WA 98155
Poll hours 10:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Meet the Candidates

Mary Embleton, Seattle
Mary Embleton has worked for 30 years in the fields of natural resource economics and the environment.  Born in Seattle and raised in Montana, Mary brings an understanding of both urban...
Read More
Mara Heiman, Auburn
Compared with the other candidates, I have the most extensive background in water resource issues. These will be crucial as the Puget Sound region struggles with both flooding threats and...
Read More
Teri Herrera, Redmond
My 18 years of experience as a Realtor® has given me a broad base of knowledge in all aspects of land use and land use issues. Sensitive areas, setbacks, wetlands and other land use restrictions...
Read More
Kirk Prindle, Seattle
I am running for King Conservation District Board of Supervisors because I believe the District would be better served by having more technical expertise and pertinent experience-based knowledge...
Read More
Max Prinsen, Renton
I am running for the board position of King Conservation District, because I am a conservationist that leads by example represents the Mission and Vision of the Conservation District...
Read More

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Effective Tree Ordinance Resolution Passed by Democrats

March 14th 2010, the 32nd Legislative District passed a resolution in favor of a strong and effective Tree Ordinance for Shoreline and other cities. 

The caucuses selected 33 delegates to the State Democratic Convention in June, to take place in Vancouver, WA.  They passed a number of other resolutions of importance as well.

Here is the website for the 32nd LD.

Resolution for An Effective Tree Ordinance for Shoreline

Submitted by Janet Way

Whereas, the City of Shoreline is now undertaking a process to develop a new tree ordinance and,

whereas, Shoreline’s current tree code is not effective because it is scattered throughout the development code,

whereas, trees are valuable to citizens and visitors to Shoreline as shown in the city’s vision and logo and,

whereas, values trees provide include beauty and quality of life, erosion protection, shade, air and water quality, carbon sequestration, stormwater protection, wildlife habitat, beautiful open space, food and many others and,

whereas, Shoreline contains headwaters of watersheds which effect Lake Washington and Puget Sound and,

whereas, citizens in Shoreline are currently working for the goal of certifying Shoreline as the largest city in the state to be a Backyard Habitat City by the National Wildlife Federation and,

whereas, trees are being lost at a tremendous rate and the tree canopy has been reduced significantly over the last decade and,

whereas, the City of Shoreline supported the passage of the Evergreen Communities Act in 2008 which encourages and assists cities and counties in creating tree ordinances and urban forestry and,

whereas, Democrats support the values trees provide, now therefore,

Be it resolved that the 32nd District Democrats supports the passage and implementation of strong tree codes in all of our cities which protects significant trees, including species having smaller caliper diameters, which makes the code more useful and accessible, encourages quality urban forestry, and education of citizens about community trees and,

Further be it resolved that the 32nd District Democrats urge the Shoreline City Council to pass a strong and effective tree ordinance and pursue urban forestry to improve Shoreline’s quality of life this year and notify the city, the Planning Commission and the media about our support.

Passed today, March 14th 2010.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Value of the Urban Forest

Why do we care about trees in our city?
President Theodore Roosevelt said “To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees.”

 Shoreline is getting down to the work of tackling this question.
The City is working on a process of creating a city Tree Ordinance.

There are of course many, many reasons why we care about trees in our City.  For instance, beauty and quality of life, fresh air, water quality, erosion prevention, shade, wildlife habitat and even "food" (fruit trees).

Interesting Fact about Trees: Up to 50% of the precipitation that falls on forests (especially conifers) never reaches the ground.  (Forestry - An International Journal of Forestry Research)

A series of information meetings are underway including one upcoming:

Wednesday, March 24
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Richmond Beach Congregational Church
1512 Northwest 195th St

Urban trees and forestry is also being studied on a statewide level. Two years ago the State House and Senate passed the Evergreen Communities Bill. The work of helping communities create better Urban Forestry is now undertaken by the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).  Urban Forestry expert Sarah Foster recently spoke at a meeting of Sustainable Shoreline Education Association and gave an overview of the values of urban trees and how we can benefit from improving our forestry practices.

This conversation is just being started and the Shoreline Planning Commission will hold hearings in several months and the community will be very involved.

Below are some of those values as presented by Seattle Urban Nature (which is now merged with Earthcorps).

Urban forests

Value of urban forests
Urban forests provide a variety of ecosystem services that are invaluable to the community. Some of these include:
  • Cleaner air due to the filtration of pollutants such as dust and soot
  • Absorption of greenhouse gases to help combat global climate change
  • Retention of stormwater runoff and reduction of erosion
  • Reduction of city noise as tree canopies intercept sound waves
  • Habitat for animals and native plants
  • Increased adjacent residential property values by up to 15%
  • Recreational opportunities and relief from the built environment
Why are we so concerned with the condition of our urban forests?
Prior to European settlement in the Puget Sound region, the Seattle area was home to an extensive conifer forest, host to mighty Douglas firs, Western red cedars and many other species. When these forests were clearcut by settlers over a century ago, both the seed source and the large decomposed logs necessary for these conifer trees to reproduce disappeared. Today, almost 80% of our forests are deciduous (composed of trees such as red alder and big-leaf maple) and the majestic conifer forests have disappeared. In addition, settlers brought with them horticultural plants from Europe and Asia, some of which have escaped cultivation and are now running rampant in our forests. These species such as English ivy and Himalayan blackberry do not have natural predators or the harsh climate of their home countries. They have found Seattle to be a very hospitable home and are pushing out the native plants and animals that have evolved here over the past 10,000 years.
In 1999-2000, Seattle Urban Nature mapped the vegetation and wildlife habitat on approximately 8,000 acres of Seattle's public land. One of the findings from the survey was that 47% of all public forests in Seattle have a greater than 50% cover of invasive plants. The data from the survey served as a wake-up call to the Parks Department and the citizenry of Seattle. Many community groups are undertaking restoration efforts to save the urban forests, and the city has used the collected data to create the Green Seattle Partnership, an effort to restore all the parks in the city. To learn more about results of the 1999-2000 survey, please visit our background page.
What can you do?
The data from the 1999-2000 survey is now available to the public for free on our Interactive Habitat Map. Please visit the map to learn about local parks and greenspaces in your neighborhood and the types of habitats found there.
Many volunteers and organizations throughout Seattle have offered their time and energy to help restore our urban forests. To join forces with these groups, or become a steward of your local park or open space, visit the following websites to find out when the next volunteer event is happening in a park or urban forest near you. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet neighbors, learn about native plants, get a workout and see how satisfying it can be to contribute to the greater good:

  • Remove invasive plant species such as English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry, Scotch Broom, Field Bindweed, English Holly, etc. To find out exactly how to remove the aforementioned invasive plant species, visit

  • Plant natives including trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species in order to establish a multi-aged canopy of trees and a forest floor that can provide habitat for a diversity of native insects and wildlife. To learn about native plant alternatives, Check with WA Native Plant Society.

  • Return to your restoration site throughout the year(s) to remove any invasive plants that have re-sprouted, and assess the survival rate of your newly planted native plants in the event that some may need to be replaced.

  • Photo Credit: Janet Way