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Fwd: Mayor Nickels Axed Arborist Budget: Last Hearing Thur Nov 4 Counc Chamb...

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"We're at risk of becoming 'the city formerly known as emerald,'" Mayor Nickels said.


CHECK OUT THE UPDATED WEBSITE:  saveseattlestrees.org


FROM:     Save Seattle?s Trees, Richard Ellison, 




Budget Hearing Schedule:    Please attend or send emails to the City Council.


Thurs., Nov. 4th, 5:30 p.m.  Public hearing, City Council Chambers, 600 4th Ave            


Budget Hearing Information:



Mayor Nickels wants to eliminate 2 of 3 ?Arboriculturist? positions at the SDOT Arborist?s Office in budget cuts. Last year, the City also gutted the Utility Line Clearance budget and axed the Tree Steward program. Is this the Mayor?s new ?Seattle Green Initiative??


Currently helping Seattle City Arborist Nolan Rundquist are only 3 arboriculturists, compared to the city of Milwaukee with 50 arboriculturists.


What is the Arborist?s Office responsibility? As part of the SDOT, it is ?responsible for street trees and right of ways?(and) maintains trees that are planted by the City? for power lines, streets, sidewalks, and public safety. According to the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, Seattle has almost 100,000 street trees.


There is a backlog of over 100 jobs. At best this crew can chase emergencies, and maintenance pruning is severely delayed. Consider that in the 1994 Seattle Street Tree Survey, 42% were found either dying or in poor condition. About 80% of street trees were less than 12? in diameter, and only 3% bigger than 24? DBH.


While it is good news that Seattle planted over 30,000 new trees since 1999, newly planted street trees have a low survivorship, estimated at 22 years or less. Who will care for these 30,000 young trees, or the 70,000 others that in 1994 were already half dead? The 19 year pruning cycle of street trees is already twice that of 14 comparable cities.


The arboriculturists also oversee all maintenance calls and the 2.5 year old collision damage program, which netted $80,000 last year for the Street Tree Fund. Mandated to respond to all calls within 24 hrs, they typically have 15 new calls/day.


Two years ago the Street Tree Fund was cut, and the monies earned from insurance claims is the ONLY money available currently for new street trees.


Legal Issues: Driver sues the City of Seattle.

Recently the City was sued when a truck driver was injured in a collision with a tree branch that did not meet clearance requirements. Who is responsible? How much do repairs cost? A lot more than a few hard working City arborists. Unpruned trees also drop branches during storms that threaten electric and cable wires, and perhaps a car parked underneath.


Trees don?t take care of themselves. And a shrinking Arborist?s Office cannot adequately watchdog street trees from those who deliberately damage or illegally remove them.


One acre of trees absorbs as much carbon dioxide as a car in 26,000 miles. Trees also remove sulfur dioxide and nitric oxides from the air. Trees, especially mature trees, play crucial roles in stabilizing sleep slopes. And hey, many native birds call trees home. And both native bird numbers and species diversity are in decline.


Seattle?s Comprehensive Plan states: 1 of its 4 Core Values is ?Environmental Stewardship.? It further decrees Seattle to be a ?Leader in Environmental Stewardship.? Mayor Nickel?s plan goes against these goals of leadership. In times of a shrinking urban forest and growing population numbers, it is irresponsible for the City to neglect our trees.


A survey of Seattle residents in 2000 found over 80% consider Seattle ?a green city.? It is a fragile green infrastructure. How many citizens want Seattle to invest in staying green?


So, with the coming winter storm season approaching, when street tree limbs or whole trees drop (on the road or your car), expect it may take a bit longer to respond. When street trees die from neglect or abuse, expect a longer turn around for replacement. And when Light Rail or Monorail devastate the treescape, expect that the infrastructure and expertise to deal with the restoration will have to be reborn from the ashes of the already shrunken and overworked Arborist?s office.


Maybe the Mayor?s strategy is if enough of Seattle?s street trees are hit by vehicles or die from some other injury, and Light Rail and the Monorail?s ?removal? of 1000?s of Seattle?s trees, we won?t need too many arborists. Mayor Nickels ?Green Initiative? appears nothing more than a political ploy, making him look green in the face instead of the ashen gray it really is. "We're at risk of becoming 'the city formerly known as emerald,'" Nickels said. Well spoken, Mayor.

The Council's budget review process requires regular schedule changes. The most up-to-date information is on the web at: http://www.cityofseattle.net/council/budget/budget2005-07.htm.

You can watch Council in action on Seattle Channel 21 or visit the Seattle City Council's Website at http://www.cityofseattle.net/council.

Contact your favorite City Councilmember at:


Or by mail at :  City Hall, 600 4th Avenue Fl 2, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025

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