Letter to the Editor: Will We Miss the Trees When They’re Gone?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

To the Editor

The City of Shoreline is felling trees at a rapid clip, and often the public doesn’t know about it until the chain saws start. One of the city’s (and the state’s) biggest projects impacting Shoreline trees is the redesigned — and LEED-certified — Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) building on Dayton Avenue North, between north 155th and north 160th streets. The size of the project is triggering City of Shoreline code requirements for enhanced sidewalks and curbs that necessitate removal of more than 133 mature trees.

Save Shoreline Trees, a Washington-state non-profit, is asking the city and the state to modify its plans (and codes) to provide an alternative sidewalk design that saves these trees.

The removal of so many second-growth trees has upset people throughout Shoreline and Seattle. Why do people feel such a connection to old, majestic trees? What do trees do that enhances our lives?

The answers are many and varied. First, trees are living organisms and, as such, communicate with one another. They warn each other of danger, drought and disease. Scientific evidence shows that they do this through their root systems. (For more information, see The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, Do Trees Talk to Each Other? Smithsonian Magazine, March 2018, or Suzanne Simard’s TED talk, How Trees Talk to Each Other.)

For humans, trees provide shelter, shade and a quiet refuge. For birds and other animals, trees are their habitat. Trees take in carbon dioxide and give us back the air we breathe. They keep the earth from warming too much, and their roots stabilize the soil. Trees are little factories doing all this work for us without us even knowing it.

But the city keeps cutting them down: the Douglas Firs, the Western Red Cedars, the Western Hemlocks. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. They will no longer provide us with the benefits we barely notice.

Kathleen A Kaye


Ramona Daniel Gault February 20, 2020 at 8:54 AM  

Thank you for your insights, Kathleen! As we all face climate change's threats, we must be imaginative in finding new ways forward. Modifying the city codes (such as allowing gravel paths instead of 8-foot-wide concrete sidewalks) to keep tree cutting to a minimum is a solution definitely within our powers.

Unknown February 20, 2020 at 9:48 AM  

Thank you for writing this thoughtful and excellent letter! www.saveshorelinetrees.com is dedicated to saving our tall tree canopy and educate about the benefits of our trees. Join us!

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