Support SHB 1216  and all bills helping Urban and Community Forests


Support SHB 1216  and all bills helping Urban and Community Forests

 by Richard Ellison, Tree PAC Vice-Chair

comments to the WA State House Appropriations Committee on Feb 16, 2021

I am a botanist with a MS degree from Washington State University, and a retired community college adjunct professor, having taught over 20 years in the Puget Sound area. I am also a board member of, a non-profit group advocating for the protection of the urban forest and its place as critical infrastructure in a climate changing world.

Urban trees and the few remaining forest fragments are critical in public health and for the ecosystem services they provide. The remaining big trees intercept the record rainfalls and slow down the movement of water into our overloaded combined sewer systems.

Trees provide essential habitats for our native wildlife who otherwise would be gone from urban areas. They provide a critical function of filtering our air of particulates and chemical pollutants, especially notable during hot summers, peak fire seasons, and temperature inversions. Trees provide critical shade in summers during record heat waves, greatly reducing the urban island heat effects. They provide emotional comfort to citizens stressed from a dense urban community and bring great pleasures to the elderly, families, and children.

Climate change is here, it’s no longer a myth. The summers are setting new record high temperatures. Is this year going to be the hottest, or do we get a lucky break like last summer? You know the trend is getting hotter and hotter. That’s what this is all about. Trees help keep us cooler, physically and emotionally. The urban island heat effect is real, and increased air conditioning won’t help us survive, and a long drought may just dry up a lot of hydropower availability as well.

Winter peak storm events? Record rains? Well the PNW has a long term answer to that – forests and wetlands. But now the wetlands are getting pinched and the forests are the remnant trees that developers and urbanists sometimes consider expendable, when we are most desperately in need of more tree canopy, not less.

Salmon and orca and even the ignored native octopus require clean runoff waters from our cities, and tree roots and healthy soils can help provide this. Ever see woodpeckers, owls, eagles, and osprey in our cities? I have, and they need big trees for habitat, that’s where they live, roost, reproduce and hunt, and their other wildlife kin need habitat, and urban trees provide those remnant habitats so necessary to keep the matrix of our states wildlife healthy.

And the poorest of our urban communities are being heavily impacted by rapid urban development, and we must help reduce environmental inequities of poor air quality, urban blight, and bad development practices by increasing our support to maintain and increase our support of tree planting and tree maintenance in these communities.

Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources currently partners with the US Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. SHB 1216  would expand this partnership and so enable the Department of Natural Resources to assist communities with tree inventories and canopy analysis, the development of Urban Forestry Management Plans, and the drafting of local Tree Ordinances.

Additionally, these bills help set up the Evergreen Community Recognition Program to acknowledge those communities that are making strides in the management and protection of their urban and community forests.

Thank you for your consideration. Please support legislation to study, protect and improve our precious urban forest resources.

Update – Urge Washington State House Legislators to Pass HB 1216 to Increase Protection for Urban and Community Forests

       Update – Urge Washington State House Legislators to  Pass HB 1216 to Increase Protection for Urban and Community Forests

Thanks to the over 200 people who responded to our previous e-mail on HB 1216 asking you to send an e-mail to the members of the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  The committee voted ‘do pass” on HB 1216  and sent it to the Appropriations Committee. A hearing has been set for Tues, Feb 16th at 1:30 PM. To stay alive the bill needs to be voted out of the Appropriations Committee by Feb. 22nd and sent to the House Rules Committee in order to be added to the calendar to be voted on by the full House. 

We have changed the text of the e-mail for you to send and expanded it to include all House members. We need you to send the new e-mail to let all House members know there is strong support for passing HB 1216. You can make a difference.

HB 1216 would direct the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to assist Washington cities and towns and counties in our state conducting tree inventories and canopy analysis, developing Urban Forestry Management Plans and drafting local Tree Ordinances.

HB 1216 was sponsored by Representative Ramos and 8 other House members. This bill was requested by the Department of Natural Resources and is supported By Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee has earmarked $2.7 million dollars in his proposed State Budget to support DNR’s efforts to increase protection for trees and urban forests. HB 1216 would help the state meet its goals of increasing climate resilience, protecting human health and addressing environmental equity.

Please do these two Quick Action items:

1. Send an e-mail today to keep HB 1216 moving in the Washington State House of Representatives.  

Submit Public Comment to House Members Now!

2. Sign in as “pro” HB 1216 on the Appropriations Committee hearing page. You must do this by 12:30 PM Tues, Feb. 16th. to be counted. 

I would like my position noted for the legislative record 

If you would also like to submit written testimony for the Appropriations Committee Hearing legislative record click here. Submit written testimony for Hearing record HB 1216  Written testimony can be submitted up to 24 hours after the hearing starts.

Thanks for your help.