By Mike Beacom
With help from communities and area volunteers, King Conservation District is leading an effort to spread urban forestry throughout King County in Western Washington.
In 2015, King Conservation District launched the Urban Forest Health Management Program to provide urban forestry services to the incorporated cities of King County. Using a request for proposal (RFP) process, King Conservation District developed formal partnerships with several cities, including the City of Snoqualmie, the first to host a stewardship event through the program.
The Green Snoqualmie Partnership aims to place more than 1,000 acres of publically-owned forested open space into an active urban forestry stewardship program. Partners include the City of Snoqualmie, King Conservation District, and non-profit organization Forterra. In early October, volunteers removed more than 2,000 square feet of invasive blackberry from the Cottonwood Forest in Snoqualmie and replanted it with native trees and shrubs designed to match the specific soil conditions and forest canopy. Native selections included shore pine, Pacific crabapple, Douglas fir, Oregon grape, snowberry, Pacific ninebark, and Scouler’s willow.
“The work that King Conservation District is doing by introducing more urban forestry projects into our cities is having a resoundingly positive effect on the people that live there,” said Jarret Griesemer, King Conservation District’s forestry project coordinator. “With only a few employees we have already been able to work closely with three cities to start-up and enhance their urban forestry programs.”
King Conservation District plans to invest up to $150,000 annually for five years (2015-2019) to support regional and collaborative urban forestry initiatives that bridge stewardship across private and public lands. The program’s goal is to work with a minimum of 15 member jurisdictions to enhance up to 70 acres of urban tree canopy and upland/forested habitat.
The three projects selected for 2017 include: a pilot project with the City of Redmond and three Homeowners Associations (HOAs) that would result in the neighborhood stewardship of natural areas preserved and protected through easements or tracts; an effort with the City of Seattle to engage property owners adjacent to forested restoration sites in taking steps to remove invasive species from their properties, thereby expanding and preserving urban forest restoration efforts for increased positive benefit to Seattle as a whole; and tree canopy assessments for the City of Clyde Hill and Towns of Yarrow Point and Hunts Point.
The program hopes to enlist more “Forest Stewards” to adopt future forest sites and coordinate volunteer events.
“Citizens are becoming increasingly aware of just how important forested open space is within urban areas,” said Phil Bennett, urban forester for the City of Snoqualmie. “King Conservation District’s work has raised this awareness through promoting on-the-ground stewardship of our natural resources.”
To learn more about the Urban Forest Health Management Program, click here.