About 50 citizens gathered on Thursday evening at City Hall to voice their thoughts and opinions about how to manage Edmonds’ urban forest.
The need for a comprehensive urban forest management plan was identified two years ago when the Edmonds Planning Board recommended against adopting a draft tree code put forth by the Tree Board. Reasoning that adopting a tree code in the absence of a comprehensive policy background would be putting the cart before the horse, this action set the stage for developing an Urban Forest Management Plan. The function of such a plan is to guide future decisions about the role, value and overall management of Edmonds’ urban forest.
With subsequent Edmonds City Council approval of this approach, the City of Edmonds embarked on a process that resulted in the selection of the Davey Resource Group to develop the plan. To date, Davey’s work has included a series of stakeholder interviews with city staff and the Edmonds Tree Board, researching relevant documents relating to urban forest management, and conducting an urban tree canopy assessment. By utilizing aerial photographs and various computer analyses the assessment provides an overall picture of the amount and condition of Edmonds’ existing tree cover.
Thursday’s open house marked the kickoff of the public involvement phase of the project.
Ian Scott, project developer for Davey, began by describing what an urban forest is, the importance of a comprehensive urban forest management plan, what has been accomplished to date, the public input process, and the overall project schedule and milestones.
Scott spent considerable time reporting the results of the urban tree canopy assessment. According to these results, Edmonds enjoys a 30 percent tree cover, the remainder being a mixture of impervious surface, grass/mixed vegetation and water. By comparison, Lake Forest Park has a greater than 40 percent tree cover, and Tacoma has just above 10 percent.)
But the benefits of the urban forest go beyond just cover. As they stand now, Edmonds’ trees have sequestered 188,000 tons of carbon, adding an additional 6,200 tons each year. By stabilizing soils, they prevent an estimated 42.8 million gallons of runoff (thereby eliminating the need for expensive infrastructure to handle the runoff), and remove 42.2 tons of atmospheric pollutants annually. Scott stressed that an effective urban forest management plan is key to retaining these benefits.
After Scott’s presentation, Keeley O’Connell took over to kick-start the public involvement portion of the session. O’Connell prompted attendees to help shape the critical goals and objectives of the plan by indicating the relative importance to them of an array of questions and statements related to trees in Edmonds’ urban environment. These were printed on large posters placed around the room, and attendees affixed green, yellow or red dots to the statements indicating the relative importance/value of each. These responses will guide the consultants as they develop the first draft of the plan.
The project timeline calls for presentation of the first draft later this summer, with review lasting into early fall. The second draft is scheduled for late fall, with a final draft and approval in the first half of 2018.
“We want to get as much input from the citizens of Edmonds as possible as we move forward with this plan,” said Scott. “We have set up an online survey that provides an easy way to let your views be heard, and I encourage all to participate.”
My Edmonds News videotaped the meeting. Watch the video here.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel