The Edmonds Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) will address all of the forest in Edmonds. The city controls 13 percent of the tree canopy in its parks and street trees. The other 87 percent is on private properties. Currently there are no restrictions on tree removal on private land except for property classified as “critical areas,” such as stream drainages.
Recently an attempt to enact a “tree ordinance” in Edmonds, which would have given the City some control over tree removal on private property, failed to pass. The City Council felt they needed more information before considering a tree ordinance. Thus the City outsourced the writing of a UFMP. The current UFMP draft can be found at Edmondswa.gov.
The Edmonds City Tree Board is a volunteer citizens’ commission whose goal is to educate the public about the environmental benefits of urban trees. The tree board does not have any control over the UFMP or any proposed tree ordinance.
Edmonds is growing which means the loss of tree canopy. Many large conifers are coming down. These fallen trees release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere when they die.
The proposed UFMP goal of “maintaining citywide tree canopy,” which is currently at 30 percent of land area, is good but needs specific recommendations:
– The City, through the Parks Department, should purchase the property just east of Seaview Park which extends to Perrinville. This forested hill is not conducive to development and the City already has infrastructure on that property. This property would bridge the forest of SW County Park and Lynndale Park.
– The City should enact a tree ordinance addressing the 87 percent of forest canopy the City does not control. This ordinance would require “low impact development” where a portion of the trees on proposed developments would be preserved. It would require “replacement” trees or “fees in lieu of” to compensate for those lost.
– Collected fees would contribute to an existing “tree bank /land trust “in the region. We realize that we cannot plant large numbers of replacement conifers in Edmonds because there is not enough land. We should plant new conifer saplings in a forest nearby, which will gain the same environmental benefits in the future. The tree bank will begin to offset our current carbon pollution.
Edmonds has a unique responsibility in controlling carbon pollution. Sea level rise will directly impact our waterfront. We urge the City Council to enact a forward-thinking UFMP and Tree Ordinance. What we do today will affect future generations. We should strive to be great ancestors.
Bill Phipps and Karen Helland