Snohomish to keep a careful eye on his trees
SNOHOMISH — The city is all about trees.
In addition to pursuing the honor of being named Tree City USA, it plans to conduct a citywide tree inventory.
In a poll last week, a majority of city council members supported new tree-protection rules, which the city is investigating.
At least four of the seven city council members support requiring a permit to remove a tree from private property and support requiring a property owner to replace the removed tree.
Councilors Donna Ray, Karen Guzak and David Flynn said at the meeting they would support the creation of city codes to govern these actions.
Councilwoman Lea Anne Burke said she would support these guidelines in general, but stressed in an interview that there are multiple layers to any tree rulebook.
A good tree policy considers the bigger picture, Burke said. “If we have sensible policies, particularly around tree health and removal, it makes sense,” she said.
After the tree inventory is complete, the city will examine it to focus on tree care and assess where new trees can be planted where they are most needed. Urban planner Brooke Eidem put it in a summary that new plantings are “particularly in neighborhoods with little equity capital”.
Trees cool a local area and provide cooling The shade. Tree cover is a well-documented environmental justice issue based on residents in lower-income areas having fewer trees, either planted in yards or along streets.
A chorus of residents spoke with appreciation at last week’s city council meeting for how the city will give this level of attention to trees.
“Being a Tree City in America is a healthy step for our community and our families,” Marilene Richardson told the council.
In order to have Snohomish recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, several steps would be required: The city must form a Citizen Tree Council, celebrate Arbor Day annually, and commit to at least approximately $20,000 per year in tree care. Engagement can be through ambiguous volunteer hours, not just cash.
Monroe and Everett both already have this designation.
Burke said the city can ensure residents have a resource guide to tree care practices as part of the tree management plan.
The cities of Redmond, Sammamish, Kirkland and Shoreline all regulate when a permit is required to remove a tree from private property, but the manner in which they do this differs: some base the need for a permit on a minimum trunk size; while other cities require a permit when taking out multiple trees. Some of these cities require an arborist to check a tree’s health before approving its removal.
City Council President Tom Merrill said it was too early in the process to make any formal comments on the idea of requiring permits.
“I strongly advocate that we establish approaches to preserving and enhancing the city’s tree canopy, both publicly and privately,” Merrill wrote via email.
The city has applied for a state grant to help cover the cost of creating a tree inventory and will soon know if it won.
There are 115 cities in Washington state that are recognized as Tree City USA.
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