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Friday, April 29, 2011

Today Is Arbor Day - Shoreline's Trees Need Protection

And we need much more tree canopy! 
Neighborhood Trail in Briarcrest at Street End
Will a tree ordinance be enacted to protect our current tree canopy and increase it? 
The recently completed Tree Canopy study and report states that Shoreline hasn't made any progress on increasing it's tree canopy and the American Forests organization states that urban forest canopy should be at a minimum 40%. The council's current goal has been "no net loss"
but in order to truly meet their Sustainability Strategy's vision, shouldn't the bar be set higher
to really meet the expectations of our community?

On Arbor Day, it's good to reflect on what trees do for us, and what is the current state of trees in our City.  At minimum, why is Shoreline not at least a part of the Tree City USA program?
Afterall, we have trees as one of the main features in our logo! Let's get in on the benefits of being designated at Tree City.

So what gives Shoreline? We have what it takes. We have volunteers. We have some resources
(free trees or grant funds are available even in this tough budget time). We have the desire.
The benefits of improving our canopy and protecting trees are OBVIOUS!
Trees are a value that is specified in our City Vision!
Let's get going!
Hamlin Park Pathway
Here are the four relatively simple criteria for becoming a "Tree City":
Arbor Day Foundation Tree City Sign
Shoreline Could Do It! Even Seattle Did!
Also Lake Forest Park Did!

The Four Standards for Tree City USA Recognition

To qualify as a Tree City USA community, a town or city must meet four standards established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.
These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program.
It is important to note that they were also designed so that no community would be excluded because of size.
    1. Here are some actual benefits we could receive for our City if we applied for Tree City status:
    1. • Citizen  Pride
                                    1.   • Educational Benefits

      1. • Grant Funding and Financial Assistance
      1. • Economic Value for the greater community and property owners too

      1. • Public Image
        • Publicity

    At a recent City Council meeting the Tree Canopy Study that had been completed was discussed. The Tree Canopy study was done by AMEC Earth & Environmental and was very basic, limited in scope, and paid for by grant funding. The objective of the study was to establish a "baseline" for what our tree canopy is now. 

    You can review it here.

    Some of the most significant findings of the Tree Canopy study were that the consultants claimed that as of 2009, (when the last arial surveys were available) despite perceptions that many trees have been lost over the years, many more have grown in scale and that now there is virtually the same percentage of canopy (30.6%) as 2001.  However, the study also showed that the City now has approximately 46.2% "impervious surface" (streets, parking lots, rooves which do not absorb stormwater).  This number is significant because the tree canopy is one of the best ways to mitigate the large amount of impervious surface which causes huge problems such as flooding, sedimentation in streams. pollution runoff into water bodies.  The study said that the tree canopy now provides approximately $900,000 in annual cost savings for stormwater storage capacity.

    It has been scientifically proven that up to 50% of the precipitation that falls on trees, especially conifers, never hits the ground!

    The study also pointed out that there is still plenty of space for planting trees in single family residential areas and parks, which could mitigate many problems such as air pollution, water pollution and provide 770 tons of carbon sequestration annually.  And, trees do this work year after year for a very small investment.

    Also, obviously trees provide that quality of life and sense of place that means so much to our residents. There have been very clear studies that show that commercial areas with more trees attract more customers and the customers shop longer, spending more money. So the tree canopy is clearly an economic asset. 

    It's time to get serious about protecting and improving our Shoreline Tree Canopy! 
    Ronald Bog surrounded by trees
    It's what makes Shoreline a place we care about!


    1. For Shoreline, being "Green" is about more than reusing and recycling,it's about how we see ourselves compared to Seattle's "Emerald City." We have more canopy and it is one reason that many current residents live here. Seattle's, big city, canopy goal is 30%. We should be aiming higher than that! We have the space, we have the desire and we want the benefits of cleaner air and water, reduced spending for stormwater management, and the wildlife..... I whole-heartedly agree. Let's get with it. We need a tree code and a forestry program to become a Tree City!

    2. Agree with Janet's post and previous commenter on this 100%! I would add that if we don't jump on this now, we'll find ourselves in the position of trying desperatly to get back to 30% and never be able achieve the more appropriate 40% goal. Cities all over the country have past the point of no return. Let's please not follow in their footsteps.