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Heritage Tree Program recognizes Seattle’s best trees


Heritage scarlet oak

Is there a tree on your street that inspires awe every time you walk by?  How about in your backyard or in your local park?  Maybe it’s a Heritage Tree—or could be.  Seattle’s Heritage Tree Program evaluates and designates trees that residents have nominated.    Anyone can nominate a heritage tree, but if it is on private property, the owner’s permission is required before it is considered.  Once nominated, trees are evaluated by a committee of Certified Arborists.  Criteria for Heritage Tree status include size, health, risk rating, history and how each tree compares to others of the same species within the City.  Committee members meet four times each year and are from SDOT, Washington Park Arboretum, PlantAmnesty, and private tree care or consulting companies.

The current chair of the committee is Joshua Erickson, of SDOT Urban Forestry.  He takes in applications, contacts property owners when necessary, maintains a database of Heritage Trees and organizes meetings.  After some consideration he chose a red oak tree in the planting strip at 921 18th Ave as his favorite.  The tree is 82 feet tall and stretches 100 feet over the road, nearly touching the homes on both sides of the street.

The program started in 1996 by the non-profit PlantAmnesty, in partnership with the City, as a means to recognize outstanding trees that were not necessarily protected by City ordinances. There are now 128 Heritage Trees throughout the city.  Heritage Trees currently have the same status as exceptional trees under Department of Planning and Development ordinances.  For more information on city ordinances concerning trees, see .  Some property owners opt to protect their trees in perpetuity through a conservation easement. For more information on the Heritage Tree Program, including a link to nomination form, go to .  The Heritage Tree program also has a facebook page:!/pages/Seattles-Great-Trees/110605995658069

Heritage sequoia