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Tree Cover: Kirkland Seeks Citizen's Comments on Draft Urban Forest Plan

The city is seeking public comment as it prepares to adopt a formal plan to protect Kirkland's forest in the future.

 

Boosted by annexation to beyond the recommended threshold of 40 percent tree cover, the City of Kirkland is now developing a formal strategic plan to manage its forests sustainably, and wants to know what you think.

Kirkland’s Draft Urban Forest Strategic Management Plan will be presented to the City Council sometime next year, and comments are being taken from residents through Jan. 4.

Trees produce oxygen, clean the air of pollutants, reduce stormwater runoff and flooding and of course provide habitat for native wildlife. Many communities in the region are adopting management plans to sustain forests. Recommendations by an American Forests’ Ecosystem Analysis for the Puget Sound Metropolitan area indicate many cities could improve such benefits with a 40 percent tree canopy.

In 2003, Kirkland’s overall tree cover was estimated to be 32 percent. An inventory in 2011 indicated the city had increased tree cover in Kirkland proper, and the annexation that year of heavily forested Finn Hill and two other northern neighborhoods boosted the city’s overall cover to more than 40 percent.

The goal now is for the city to establish a formal forestry program, find funding for it and prepare annuals report and work plans.

The focus would be on four areas:

  • Better measurement of Kirkland’s private and public tree resources, and evaluation of its condition and benefits.
  • Regulations on to guide management and protect the city trees.
  • Developing a formal city framework for the program in terms of staff and financial resources.
  • A plan for working with separate groups, such as in the Green Kirkland Partnership and neighborhood groups and volunteers, on maintaining and restoring forests.

An on-line survey questionnaire in September received over 650 responses and several hundred comments. For a project update, please click this link. Also, see the attached PDF file for details on the draft plan. You can email your comments to urbanforestplan@kirklandwa.gov through January 4, 2013.

If you have questions, you can contact city planner Paul Stewart at (425) 587-3227 or pstewart@kirklandwa.gov.

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