Letter to the Editor: New trees do not equal mature trees

Monday, October 19, 2020

To the Editor:

New trees do not equal mature trees Recently, the City sent out a press release, stating that it was in the process of planting 62 new street trees on the east side of Shoreline. Shoreline spent $11K of its Tree Fund to plant 62 new street trees. It further states that "[t]he trees are Zelkova and Norwegian Sunset Maples, which are known for their fall colors”. According to the 2019 ROW Street Tree List, these are large and median trees, respectively, but not native to Pacific Northwest. Why isn’t the City planting native trees or evergreens? In June 2020, the City paid for and received a Climate Impacts and Resiliency Study from Cascadia Consulting Group and Herrera Environmental Consultants. The Study stated in Appendix B, Recommended Resilience Strategies, that evergreen trees would improve water quality and catchment for stormwater, as well as increase carbon sequestration. They may not be as “pretty” as Norwegian Sunset Maple, but evergreen trees certainly contribute more to a healthy environment. The Study further recommends planting “additional native tree, or native tree cultivars / hybrids to support local habitat, fauna, and flora, and increase native canopy cover.”

Shoreline’s new street tree planting and replacement program cannot be considered a solution for removing existing mature trees in Shoreline. It is important to protect all of our tall trees as well as plant new trees. To summarize, I recommend everyone read a recent online article entitled “US cities are losing 36 million trees a year. Here's why it matters and how you can stop it.” https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/20/health/iyw-cities-losing-36-million-trees-how-to-help-trnd/index.html

Susanne Tsoming


Unknown October 19, 2020 at 7:01 AM  

Thank you for this letter. I do not understand the shortsightedness of planting "pretty" vs. native and resistant. We need trees that will be here t0 years from now because this is their habitat, not trees that will develop an "unforeseen" problem and need to be removed.

Boni Biery October 19, 2020 at 9:44 PM  

Thanks for making this point Susanne. The city continues to throw taxpayer money at study after study, but there is never any attention given to the recommendations made. There is much press used to advertise the studies as if the city was going to act upon them. But its' only empty talk and no action to save our healthy evergreen canopy (which works year-'round ) or serious efforts to add long-living, evergreen diversity and forest resilience to it.

Nor does one tree stem necessarily equal another tree stem. One evergreen tree that will reach 100+ vertical feet with enormous leaf surface area and live 50-500 years depending on the species, ever be given equal status to a deciduous tree that will get to be 35-50 feet at most and live for only twenty years with a much smaller total leaf surface area that only works half of the year at best.

We need people on the city council who will not only request studies, but USE THE RECOMENDATIONS from them to revise our tree planting and removal codes. The first study was done in 2011 and yet the city still allows developers to "log" development sites and home owners to essentially do the same at 3 or more significant trees a year.

We are already finding it harder to breathe and will soon be paying more for man-made infrastructure to address flooding when just leaving our standing trees alone and adding more of the best type of trees when/where we can would make a whole lot more sense. Time to look for new City Council candidates. There are 4 openings next fall.

PanorArbor October 20, 2020 at 8:10 AM  

Planting new trees is great and we should be planting hundreds of thousands of new trees every year, but when we are planting a relatively insignificant number of small non-native deciduous trees in highly restrictive and oppressive 'planting-strips' and allowing the removal of healthy native conifers from private property, many of which have been 'open-grown' resulting in wide reaching and extremely dense, lush and habitat-rich canopies, it is like putting a band aid on a severed artery. Even if the City of Shoreline planted 100 Douglas-fir saplings to replace the loss of one 100ft healthy Douglas-fir, there is no comparison for the ecological services that this single tree provides the community. So when the City allows the clearing of sites with numerous healthy conifers in excess of 100ft height, their measly requirement to 'replace' each tree removed with 3 or 4 young trees does not even scratch the surface of the irreplaceable loss to the environment. Basically, one cannot 'replace' existing tree canopy. It is hard to put into human terms but one way of looking at it may be to suggest that 3 or 4 toddlers can achieve the same level of intellectual prowess as a 70 year old Professor of Astro-Physics! The solution is simple; force 'development' to incorporate all existing healthy trees into their designs and stop allowing them to raze properties of existing trees as this practice is unsustainable and we all suffer, especially the younger generation as they will inherit the short-sighted and destructive actions of this generation, by which point it may be impossible to reverse.

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