Letter to the editor: City needs a full-time arborist


The Edmonds city trees, on our streets and in our beautiful parks, are not receiving adequate care! We have very little dedicated staff to attend to them, which leaves them less structurally sound and more open to potential disease due to lack of care and pruning.

Debra Dill, our city beautification program leader, has recently been assigned to use 10% of her time for city arborist duties.  This is totally inadequate for a city of our size with vast public areas. Her arborist duties include monitoring all our public trees, including assessing problems, pruning and consulting with townspeople, developers and city departments regarding particular issues.

Clearly, we need a full-time arborist. Please recommend to our city council members and mayor, that our 2020 budget fund the hiring of a full -time arborist.

Gail Lovell
Edmonds Citizens’ Tree Board

6 Replies to “Letter to the editor: City needs a full-time arborist”

  1. There are multiple things to consider here…
    Yes, we need a full-time Arborist. Deb Dill is certified AND on staff, but limited to 10% as her duties starting 2019 (aside from being employee of the year and she is AMAZING!). I see people saying they want a full-time person. I see people also say we don’t need more city employees. Has anyone really considered the extra staff associated with this? Unsafe trees need to be taken down. A minimum of 4 persons (Arborist, climber, safety person, grounds person) to manage each unsafe tree. So maybe we continue to outsource that at a higher cost to the city. New trees need to planted when others are taken down. Citizens expect the city to take care of trees on their property. Edmonds really needs to identify property lines, fine those not in compliance, etc.

    And then you have the Tree Board. Amazing folks that can’t cut down a tree. This program isn’t managed correctly. Has anyone really walked through Pine Ridge or Yost parks or have they seen the damaged pathways throughout the city due to trees (5th & Main)? You would know what I’m talking about. Quit tying the hands of those that can make a difference. Oh hell, did you see the DEAD trees in front of city hall for years because no one wanted to CHANGE? City Council, the Tree Board and the community really needs to appreciate it’s city workers and quit tying their hands with permits and politics, hire the proper staff and move the city forward AND open their eyes.

    Did you know it takes 8.3 parks workers per 10k population to maintain the system? There are only 10 or so Full Time RIGHT NOW for the almost 50,000 residents. You do the math.

    Make the right, sound, and educated decision. Prove me wrong. Do your research before before posting on this subject. Talk to Deb Dill. Talk to Parks Department. Talk to Tree Board. Talk to National Parks and Recreation people. Talk to City Council. Talk to other similar sized cities. Walk your City Parks, your City streets. Talk to Public works who are trying to take care of sidewalks because of trees. Talk to the City attorney and ask how much we have paid out on claims associated with this. Make sound decisions.

    Anthony Bond


    1. Great comments. I have requested a City Arborists for two years and the Administration wanted to wait till the City had a completed Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP). The UFMP was completed early this year and has many goals and objectives relating to maintaining and enhancing our tree canopy.
      So I believe the City needs a full-time arborist to manage it, help the citizens on tree issues, help the Tree Board in carrying out their yearly work plan so the City can retain its’ Tree City USA designation, and a myriad of other issues relating to tree management, code recommendations, and education.


  2. Anthony- good points but *no* city nearby has near enough stuff to “maintain the system“.… it would be wonderful if we could at least reach a minimum goal of having a qualified person on staff who could address more than perhaps the tree board and City Council is allowing its arborist to do.


    1. The Tree Board doesn’t “allow” the part time (10%) arborist to do anything. We work with the arborist
      to develop plans around trees for the city. The Tree Boards mission is to work with the citizens of Edmonds and to provide educational opportunities and material to the populace so everyone has a better understanding of the need and value of trees in our community.


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