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Happy Earth Day!

For Earth Day on Saturday, let’s look at how our city crews care for the 40,000 trees along our streets which SDOT is responsible to maintain. It’s a big job, so last year SDOT launched the Street Tree Management Plan (STMP) to be more proactive and to manage our trees in a more holistic way.

An important part of the plan’s data collection is our for people to take our community survey – which would be a great way to help you observe Earth Day!

The goal of the STMP is to improve the health and resilience of our street trees by collecting more complete data about them and then using that info to make better decisions about our work.

The plan divides the City into 27 sectors called “management units.” We focus the work of the STMP on 3 units per year so that by 2024, all units will be proactively served.

The plan has four objectives:

  • Inventory all street trees by the end of 2024 to better prepare for emergencies related to street trees and plan an improved future for them in all Seattle communities.
  • Maintain every SDOT-maintained street tree (as needed)By the end of 2024, through scheduled pruning, maintenance, hazardous tree removal, and planting, SDOT will increase the health of our trees and improve safety for people.
  • Replace trees 2 for 1.  The City replaces each street tree that is removed with two new ones, planting the most suitable trees to ensure a diverse, resilient urban street canopy.
  • Connect with the community. We want everyone to receive the benefits of streets trees equitably, so we started a plan to connect with all Seattle communities. We are also conducting an equity analysis of the STMP as we develop it to help ensure that we are creating the plan with all communities, especially those who have been underserved in the past.

The Street Tree Management Plan is already bearing fruit (pun intended).  In 2016, we completed the first three management units. In the South Park/Highland Park management unit, the data on street trees was updated and improved so much that SDOT’s estimate of the value of the street trees in this area tripled from about $120,000 to over $360,000!  We also increased our knowledge of the types of trees in this management unit, which helps us identify which trees to plant to increase the diversity and resilience of “street tree forest” in South Park and Highland Park.

Happy Earth Day!