Your Help Needed Now to Pass E2SHB 1216 to Protect our Urban and Community Forests

Urge Washington State Senators to Amend and

Pass E2SHB 1216

Thanks to your strong support E2SHB 1216 (Engrossed 2nd Substitute HB 1216) was passed by the Washington State House of Representatives and is now in the State Senate.

E2SHB 1216 – concerning urban and community forests – 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.

A hearing on the bill is set for Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 1:30 PM in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee.

How you can help.

Sign in Pro on E2SHB 1216  

must be done by 12:30 PM on 3/16/2021

Send public comments to Key Committee members

Executive Action scheduled for 3/18/2021
Action network e-mail urges Committee to amend the bill and then pass it.

Thanks for your help.

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 TreePAC.org, 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.