Save the Aurora Ave N Sweetgum Trees

Please send an e-mail to Seattle City officials to help save the Aurora Ave N Sweetgum street trees  from being cut down..
Click on the link below to do it quickly through Action Network. Thanks.
Don’t Clearcut Seattle is a project of TreePAC. They maintain the action network website.
Donations to TreePAC are needed to support their work  protecting existing urban trees and efforts to plant more trees to increase our urban canopy. Please donate today. Thanks.


Tree protest in North Seattle, 5-29-22

TreePAC and The Last 6,000 prevented (for now) a pair of exceptional Doug Firs from being cut down this weekend. Ideally this will force a permit from the landowner at minimum (and potential fines) but watch this space for more.

From KIRO 7, on the scene today:

Seattle Audubon tree petition!

Our friends at Seattle Audubon have put up a great tree petition – please take action and sign the petition!

Protect trees for a climate-resilient city.

The heatwave our region experienced at the end of June 2021 made clear that the deadly impacts of climate change are here. We must act now to improve our resilience and prepare for the future. An equitably distributed and protected urban forest is one of our best hopes for becoming a climate-resilient city. Join us in urging Seattle city leaders to improve urban forest protections today.

In a Dense Landscape, Can Trees and Housing Co-Exist?

Martha Baskin interviews Rich Ellison and other local tree advocates on KBCS, 3/28/22 – listen here – transcript below – Go Martha!

NOTE – capital letters note spoken dialog, not shouting 🙂 – Ed.

Lead: In the face of rapid residential development, Seattle’s urban trees are in the crosshairs. 60% of the city’s urban canopy is on residential lots. Tree advocates say housing and trees can coexist, but have yet to convince the city’s Department of Construction and Inspection, who recently issued a new draft tree protection code. As in previous drafts, maximizing a lots development potential outweighs protecting existing trees on site. Why does it matter? Trees are the lungs of the planet. They reduce storm runoff and flooding. And during extreme weather, they’re climate warriors, cooling neighborhoods and filtering polluted air. Martha Baskin has our story.

Rich Ellison looks up at a 30 foot high Cedar tree across from a row of town homes under construction in NE Seattle. “ITS GOT A HEALTHY CANOPY AND ITS DEFINITELY GOING TO BE TREMENDOUS WILDLIFE HABITAT. ITS IN THE PLANTING STRIP SO ITS LIKELY PROTECTED FROM ANY FUTURE INCURSIONS OF DEVELOPMENT. BUT EVERYTHING IS AT RISK HERE IN THE CITY…” He trails off to make way for a construction crew truck. Before the town homes were built the lot had trees and dense vegetation, says Ellison. But all were cut down by the developer. City code allows builders to cut down any tree that interferes with maximizing a lots development potential.

A member of the advocacy group, TreePac, and a biologist, Ellison has been pushing city leaders to adopt a tree code that protects existing trees during construction for years. Over 60% of Seattle’s tree canopy is on residential lots. A new draft tree code was issued by the Department of Construction and Inspection/DCI late last month and may go before the city council this Spring. Over the years, advocates like Ellison, have had some success in stopping exceptional and signficant trees from being cleared on lots not undergoing development. Exceptional and significant trees are defined by virtue of their size, species, age and cultural or historical importance. But none are protected if a developer is unwilling to work around them. “AND RIGHT NOW WE’RE TRYING TO GET THE CITY COUNCIL AND THE NEW MAYOR WHO HAS SAID HE DOESN’T WANT TO SEE SEATTLE BECOME BARREN, BIRDLESS AND TREELESS; THAT HE WILL PUT A CHANGE ON THIS APPROACH BY DCI AND GET THEM TO LISTEN MORE TO THE URBAN FORESTRY COMMISSION.”

The city council created the Urban Forestry Commission to advise the Mayor and City Council on how best to protect and conserve trees back in 2009, when interim tree regulations were adopted. The task of drafting a new code was given to the Department of Construction and Inspection/ DCI, but to date no draft has been approved. In the intervening years, residential tree protection has faced fierce headwinds from rapid development and the need for housing and zoning changes. In 2019 the city council up zoned all single family zoning to mutli-family. Sarajane Siegfriedt with Seattle Fair Growth, says the zoning change by her estimate, reduced single zoning from 35,000 acres to 32,000 acres. “CLEARLY THEN WHAT’S PERMITTED IS GOING TO SHRINK THE TREE CANOPY THAT’S HEAVILY LOCATED IN SINGLE FAMILY AREAS” Floor area ratio of buildings was also increased, while separate legislation approved backyard cottages which Siegfriedt estimates cost upwards of $400 thousand to build. “AND THEY’RE BEING BUILT. THERE’S ONE BEING BUILT RIGHT BEHIND ME AND THEY TOOK DOWN A TREE FOR THAT, A BIG 60 YEAR OLD FIR TREE.

Tree advocates have been accused of being against density, but say density and trees can co-exist if mandated in construction codes. They’ve also been accused of being against affordable housing. But Siegfriedt points out {that low-inc ome or affordable housing requires being subsidized with federal, state or city dollars.

In another neighborhood of rapid market rate development an urban planner and member of the Urban Forestry Commission, David Moehring, talks of efforts to encourage developers to look at alternative designs in order to save existing trees. The efforts don’t always gain traction with the Department of Construction and Inspection/DCI, but if neighbors are worried that new development will impact their own tree and critical root zone, they can appeal the decision and push for a new design. At least they could before the latest draft tree code eliminated most appeals. We walk behind new town homes and see one of two trees that were protected. “SO WHAT YOU’LL SEE NOW IS THEY BUILT THE 4 ROWHOUSES ALONG THE STREET WHICH IS THE INTENT OF THE CODE ANYWAY – THEY SHOVED IT BACK SO THE EXISTING TREE IN FRONT COULD BE MAINTAINED..SAME # OF DWELLINGS BUT THE TWO TREES REMAINED.”

But such outcomes are rare. A grove of trees next to another set of town homes was demolished. Moehring asked DCI to consider alternative designs drawn up by an architect.“BASICALLY THE CITY ALLOWED THEM TO PROCEED. INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT ALTERNATIVES THEY JUST WENT THROUGH AND CLEARED OUT EVERTHING.” Moehring and others say there’s a disconnect between policies that allow developers to clear cut a site in order to maximize a lots development potential and the city’s stated goal of balancing tree protections while supporting growth and density. For its part, DCI said via email that it “considered” this goal in its draft tree code and will continue to partner with the Urban Forestry Commission. DCI also noted that trees 12” in diameter would need to be replaced. But advocates say while its important to plant new trees, protecting existing mature trees is critical. Mature trees are climate warriors and essential infrastructure, much like water, electrical grids and sewers. Trees capture carbon and filter air. Their canopies buffers against extreme heat and cool neighborhoods and their roots reduce floods – things which new trees take decades to do. And of course, they provide habitat for birds – whose songs give joy in dark times. Meanwhile the Master Builders Association filed an appeal challenging the draft tree proposal. Until the appeal is resolved the City Council can’t act on the draft.

With engineering by Daniel Guenther, this is Martha Baskin reporting. -0-

Press Release – Seattle City Council Passes Tree Service Provider Registration Legislation

Press release
for immediate release:
Seattle City Council Passes TreePAC Priority Legislation to Increase Tree Protection in Seattle
The Seattle City Council today adopted legislation to require that Tree Service Providers working in Seattle be registered and certified to remove significant trees and do major pruning.
The ordinance passed was sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen and Councilmember Dan Strauss. By a unanimous vote of Council member present, Council passes CB 120207 – AN ORDINANCE relating to land use and urban forestry; adding a tree service provider registration procedure and requirement .
Steve Zemke, Chair of TreePAC stated “We appreciate the City Council  taking action with this bill to increase tree protection. This is a good first step and we look forward to working with the Council to adopt a more comprehensive update of the Tree Protection Ordinance later this summer” Efforts to update the Tree Protection Ordinance have been going on for 13 years now after an interim draft was passed in 2009.
The goal of the adopted ordinance is to minimize the illegal cutting down of trees on private property that are protected by the existing Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) will oversee the registration of Tree Service Providers and their meeting conditions in the just passed ordinance to be able to do tree work in Seattle. Registration will be required to be completed by Nov. 10, 2022. See summary and fiscal note here.
The new registration requirements are patterned after what the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)  has been doing for the last 9 years. Spokane , Washington also has a similar program in place, to require registration of Tree Service providers doing any work on public trees in their city.
The state of Washington requires that a business be registered as a contractor if they deal with “Tree removal” – A contractor in this specialty falls and/or removes trees, stumps and/or branches on residential or commercial property or near a residential or commercial structure, outbuilding, or fence.” They also need to purchase a Washington Continuous Contractor Surety Bond in the amount of $12,000 for general contractors or $6,000 for specialty contractors. In addition, they need a general liability insurance policy in the amount of $200,000 liability and $50,000 property damage, or $250,000 combined single limit..
At least 8 other states require registration as a Tree Service Provider to do tree care work..  These states include – California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
Seattle’s registration process will provide additional oversight in protecting Seattle’s trees and tree canopy.. It requires Tree Care Providers to acknowledge they are familiar with Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance and other related regulations. If a second violation of current rules and regulations occurs in any year, the Tree Service Provider will not be allowed to work in Seattle for the next year. The city will publish a list on line of Tree Service Providers registered to work in Seattle.
The just adopted Ordinance was only one provision of nine recommended for adoption in 2019 by the Seattle City Council in Resolution 31902. A draft bill from the Department of Construction and Inspection on meeting some of the provisions in Resolution 31902, was released in Feb. with a SEPA determination of non-significance (DNS). The DNS is being appealed to the Seattle City Hearing Examiner by The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and several developers . Once this process is completed, the expectation and stated goal is that the City Council will take up this summer the adoption of a stronger tree ordinance.
The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission released a draft ordinance in 2019 – Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance. . TreePAC is urging the Council to use this bill as the starting draft for a comprehensive update, instead of SDCI’s draft..

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States Requiring Tree Service Provider Registration

Posted on  by 

Tree Service Providers Licensing is required  in 8 states

  • New Jersey Board of Tree Experts 

Licensing of Tree Care Operators and Tree Care Experts

“Licensing legislation was proposed by industry groups and passed by the New Jersey legislature on January 16, 2010. The legislation is known as the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act and on April 17, 2017, the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Law’s rules were adopted and promulgated.

The Act creates a licensing program under which individuals may become Licensed Tree Experts (LTEs) or Licensed Tree Care Operators (LTCOs) by passing an examination and demonstrating good moral character. Licensees will be required to complete continuing education requirements, abide by standards of professional conduct and ethics, and adhere to safety standards, as well as industry practice standards. No individual shall represent himself or herself to the public as a licensed tree expert or a licensed tree care operator or use any title, designation, word(s), letter, or abbreviations tending to indicate that such individual is a licensed tree expert or a licensed tree care operator without obtaining licensure as a tree expert by the Board of Tree Experts.”

NJ Arborists ISA -“Every company performing tree work in N.J. must have at least one employee who is licensed. In order to receive a license, people must meet certain minimum qualifications and then pass an exam”

  • Minnesota

University of Minnesota Extension – How to hire a tree care professional  –

Tree Care Industry Association – ‘Most cities in Minnesota require arborists to be licensed by the respective city if the company wishes to perform tree work within the city limits. Many communities require tree care companies working on publicly owned trees to employ ISA Certified arborists and register with the community as a licensed tree care company

  • Burnsville, Minnesota 

TREE CONTRACTOR LICENSING – Issued To Any business that cuts, trims, prunes, removes, sprays or otherwise treats trees or shrubs

Application for Tree Contractor License

Wm Todd Barry, 2017  “In California, a state license is required to trim a tree taller than 15 feet, and the contractor is required to cover his crew with workers compensation insurance. If the tree trimmer is not a licensed contractor, the liability for workers’ injuries rests with the homeowner, who is considered to be the “employer.” In most cases, homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover injuries or deaths when unlicensed contractors have been hired. Injured workers and survivors can sue homeowners for damages.”

The risks of hiring an uninsured and unlicensed arborist -“Never assume you’re dealing with a licensed and bonded tree service—always ask! This is crucial, because if you hire a company or individual without these credentials, you could be held liable for any on-the-job injuries or damages to your tree and property. A reliable tree service should have no problem providing you with license and insurance information before taking on a job.”

  • Connecticut

Commercial Arborist License – “An arborist license is required for persons advertising, soliciting or contracting to do arboriculture in Connecticut. As defined in the arborist law, “arboriculture means any work done for hire to improve the condition of fruit, shade, or ornamental trees by feeding or fertilizing, or by pruning, trimming, bracing, treating cavities or other methods of improving tree conditions, or protecting trees from damage from insects or diseases or curing these conditions by spraying or any other method.” The licensed arborist is a supervisory pesticide applicator, with respect to the use of pesticides.  For all intents and purposes “certificate” means “license.”

  • Maine 

Arborist Licensing – “Anyone performing arborist services in Maine must first obtain an arborist license. An arborist license allows an individual to work independently in arboriculture. Candidates for an arborist license must pass a test in either landscape, utility or both categories demonstrating knowledge, skill and capability to safely and professionally provide arborist services to the public.”

“All tree care professionals practicing in Maryland must obtain a license. Without a license, they may not practice or advertise tree care services in the state. To obtain a license, the applicant must possess adequate and related college education plus one year of experience under a LTE or have three years experience under a Licensed Tree Expert (LTE), then have passed an exam and carry adequate amounts of liability and property damage insurance. The license is a two year license renewed in December.”

  • Rhode Island 

Arborist Licensing in Rhode Island 

“Rhode Island requires that all practitioners of arboriculture be licensed. The Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator oversees the licensing and exams for arborists working in RI. This includes all Tree Wardens, as defined in RI General Law § 2-14. In 2019 there were more than 700 arborists licensed in RI.”

  • Louisiana 

Louisiana Horticulture Commission

Arborist license – Authorizes the holder to make recommendations or execute tree surgery type work including tree removal, pruning, trimming, cabling, fertilization and cavity work. Licensees must enter into a written contract with property owners specifying work to be done and sum to be paid. Property owners should ask to see a current copy of the arborist’s certificate of insurance.

“Anyone doing tree work in Louisiana is required to obtain a license through the LDAF,” Strain said. “Hiring only licensed-professional arborists protects you, the homeowner, since licensed arborists are not only trained to properly execute tree work, but they must also maintain liability insurance.

  • General comment

Stumped About Whether Your Tree Removal Pros Need a License – Amber Guetebier, Jan 9, 2022

Look for Proper Certification:

“Tree removal is a specialized service and can be dangerous work, so it’s wise to find a tree removal service with proper training. To determine qualifications, look for a tree service that holds an accredited certification from an industry-wide organization. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) offer certification in arboriculture. You can also search their database for certified arborists and verify their qualifications.Any reputable tree removal company will have at least one certified arborist on staff. Look for tree removal safety standards, such as a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP) as well. In addition, tree removal companies should follow the proper tree removal guidelines as established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).”


Types of Insurance Coverage:

“There are different types of insurance coverage that a contractor may carry. When you contact their insurance company, clarify the specifics.

  • Liability insurance ensures that the company will pay for damages to your home or possessions.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance holds the company responsible, not you, if an employee is injured while working on the job. Not only does this protect you, hiring a contractor with its employee’s best interest in mind means they are more likely to follow safety guidelines.

Being bonded essentially means that whomever you hire has a line of credit in place that will guarantee that any work contracted will be completed or, if they are unable to perform the work, the bond issuer will reimburse you. Being bonded also means the company complies with permit regulations required to complete the job.”

IS Your Service Provider a Licensed, Bonder and Insured Tree Service provider?

“Insurance requirements will also vary from state to state. For example, in Minnesota, any business performing work on a tree over 12 feet tall must have workman’s compensation insurance. In Massachusetts, a landscaper’s insurance covers only 10 feet above the ground and is different from policies that specifically cover tree work.

Although every state has different requirements for licensed tree contractors, just as with any kind of service on your property, hiring a licensed, bonded contractor will protect you—and them—from potential injury or property damages.”

  • Spokane, Washington – “Under Spokane Municipal Code (SMC) Section 10.25.010, a Commercial Tree Service License is required for any person or entity retained or hired to perform work on street trees in the City of Spokane Right-of-Way (ROW) or on public trees as defined in SMC 12.02.952.”

Commercial Tree Service License Application 

Urge the Seattle City Council at Tues. March 29th meeting to pass CB 120207 to regulate tree service providers



Dear TreePAC supporters,
Last Wednesday, the Seattle City Council Land Use Committee passed a key component in our effort to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. All 5 committee members voted to forward Council bill 120207 – An ordinance relatng to land use and urban forestry adding a tree service provider registration procedure and requirement to the full City Council for a vote on Tuesday, March 29 starting at 2 PM.
This ordinance update is needed to help stop illegal tree removal in the city and to ensure that Tree Care Providers are knowledgeable of the existing tree code and regulations. If operating out of compliance, they will face fines for violations and after 2 violations are prohibited from working in the city for a year. The companies must be registered also as contractors with the state, carry adequate insurance and have workers compensation for their employees in case they are injured on the job.

Click on the link above to send a pre-written e-mail that you can edit.

The Seattle Department of Transportation has required such registration for nine years for contractors working on street trees. Spokane Washington also requires registration for all Tree Service Providers working on public trees.
Eight states require similar registration of Tree Service Providers doing work on both public and private property – California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Seattle needs to follow suit.
We need your help to ensure this bill passes the full City Council on Tuesday and is signed by Mayor Bruce Harrell. Please send the e-mail letter linked below with any added personal comments and stories of why this legislation is needed to the City Council and Mayor. Thanks for your help.
You can also help by calling Council members offices and urging they pass this much needed legislation. You can see their contact information here.
If you want to testify for the bill, you can sign up starting 2 hours before the 2 PM meeting time on Tuesday March 29th.  Public comment is at the beginning of the meeting. It will probably be limited to 1 minute.
PUBLIC COMMENT Members of the public may sign up to address the Council for up to 2 minutes on matters on this agenda; total time allotted to public comment at this meeting is 20 minutes. Register online to speak during the Public Comment period at the 2:00 p.m. City Council meeting at Online registration to speak at the City Council meeting will begin two hours before the 2:00 p.m. meeting start time, and registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair
Thanks for your help!
Steve Zemke
Chair – TreePAC.
Donations are welcome to help us continue our efforts. Thank-you.

Send a Be My Valentine E-Mail to State Senators- Add urban and community forestry amendments to E2Shb 1099

Dear Friends of Tree PAC

E2SHB 1099 is in the WA State Senate Housing and Land Use Committee. The bill would add a climate resiliency element that cities and counties need to consider when they update their Comprehensive Plans under the state’s Growth Management Act. They are considering amendments to the bill in Executive Session on Thursday before it is voted on in Committee.

Please help strengthen the bill by sending the Washington State Senators a Valentine Day email urging that they adopt the purposed urban forest amendments below.


We have a pre-written e-mail you can quickly sent them. Feel free to add your own comments.

Here are our proposed amendments we are asking for:

In Sec. 4 (1) – Page 7 line 14 – Add underlined words – “A land use element designating the proposed general distribution and general location and extent of the uses of land, where appropriate, for agriculture, timber production, housing, commerce, industry, recreation, open spaces, general aviation, airports, public utilities, public facilities, urban and community forests, and other land uses.”
In Sec. 4 (1) – Page 7 line 22 – Insert following sentence – “The land use element must evaluate urban and community forestry canopy cover and its preservation and enhancement to mitigate heat impacts and associated health impacts on humans and the natural environment,”
In Sec. 4 (9) (b) (i) (A) – Page 17 line 30 – Add following words (bolded only to designate they are new words to add to current new sentence in bill) to the following – “Identify, protect, and enhance urban and community forests and other natural areas to foster resiliency to climate impacts, as well as areas of vital habitat for plant and animal diversity, safe passage and species migration; and”

Thanks for your help!

Steve Zemke

TreePAC – Chair

Contributions to support TreePAC are always welcome. Click here to donate.

Add two Arborist Positions to Seattle City Budget for SDCI

Councilmember Dan Strauss proposed doubling the number of arborists in  Seattle’s  Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) from two to four to increase tree protection and enforcement now.

From Dan Strauss’s newsletter:

Tree Protection Staff: As we await a new, stronger tree protection ordinance, I am proposing to hire two additional arborists in the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to immediately enhance the City’s ability to enforce the tree code and review permit applications to ensure compliance with tree protections. While the bigger changes we need will come with a new ordinance, we can start by adequately enforcing the laws we currently have.”

Unfortunately, the Nov 10th City Council Budget reconciliation proposal did not include this amendment.

On Tuesday, November 9th, Budget Chair Councilmember Mosqueda released her Initial Balancing Package. You can watch the high-level overview for the public here. If you would like to address the council to provide feedback on the balancing package, the next public hearing will be on November 18th at 9:30 AM.

 Public Hearing Thursday Nov 18, 2021  9:30 AM 
Each Budget Committee Meeting allows space for public comment at the beginning of each meeting. To provide public comment, you must register ahead of time. Signup opens 2 hours in advance of the meeting.

Please sign up to testify and/or send an e-mail to the Seattle City Council  urging they add 2 arborist positions to SDCI’s budget now to help protect more existing trees. Send e-mails to 

Funding keeps getting put off until later as trees keep getting cut down now across the city. Twelve years without adequately responding to tree loss and updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance continues to be delayed by the Council and Mayor. The Climate Crisis is now, and tree equity is a matter of climate justice and public health now.

Steve Zemke
Chair – TreePAC

Comments by Maria Batayola, Beacon Hill Council Chair, on NPI/TreePAC Tree Poll



Maria Batayola

Beacon Hill Council Chair

Sept 15, 2021

“The loss of exceptional and other trees is tremendous blow to our (beloved Seattle) and in particular our beloved Beacon Hill majority people of color, immigrants and refugees community.  We adopted El Centro De La Raza’s Air and Noise Pollution Community Action Plan that calls us to “plant trees”. But what is the use of planting trees to increase our canopy, if the current trees, especially exceptional ones, are cut down willy-nilly.  We need the trees for our health to filtrate the air and noise pollution.  This is an environmental, health, and climate injustice issue. We need to stop, think and do what is right for our beloved city of Seattle.”