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Street Tree Management Plan

Wed appreciate it if you could take a 10-minute survey to share your thoughts on where and how SDOT should focus street tree work through 2024. Together we will continue to keep Seattles trees growing and thriving!

Street Tree Management Plan Survey

Plan Description

The City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) oversees trees along streets and in other right of way (ROW) areas. This is a big job – of the estimated 250,000 street trees in Seattle, SDOT maintains 40,000 of them.  To better manage this task in a holistic way, we launched the Street Tree Management Plan (STMP) in 2016.  Through better information-gathering, analysis, deliberate maintenance, and targeted tree replacement, this citywide plan aims to improve the condition of SDOT maintained street trees by the end of 2024.

The plan divides Seattle into 27 management units with a goal to focus on 3 units per year. In 2016, we inventoried, maintained, and planted street trees in the first three units:

  • South Park / Highland Park (unit 3)
  • Rainier Beach (unit 5)
  • Lake City / Olympic Hills (unit 18). 

In 2017, well focus on:

  • First Hill / Central District (unit 10)
  • University District / Ravenna / Eastlake (unit 14)
  • Ballard / Fremont (unit 23)

Moving forward, we hope to do our part creating and maintaining clean, healthy, resilient and safe environments.

Plan Objectives

Complete a 100% inventory of all street trees in Seattle by the end of 2024. By inventorying all of Seattle's street trees, SDOT and affiliated urban forestry organizations can better prepare for street tree related emergencies and plan an improved future for street trees in all Seattle communities.

Prune every SDOT-maintained street tree as needed by the end of 2024. Through scheduled pruning, maintenance, emergency response, hazardous tree removal, and planting, SDOT will increase the health of SDOT maintained street trees. Routine maintenance ensures safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles alike.

Replace trees by planting at least two more for every tree removed.   Executive Order 03-05 requires any trees removed by the City to be replaced with a 2:1 ratio to keep Seattle a "green" city. We will leverage iTree analysis of our updated inventory to make sure we are planting the most suitable trees to ensure a diverse, resilient urban street canopy that is accessible to all.

Perform a program-long engagement plan that connects healthy green spaces equitably to all communities. This plan will change yearly based on the needs of each management unit. Community involvement can help inform decisions that minimize harm and maximize opportunity in underserved communities. Utilizing Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative principles and resources will help us connect communities to the street trees around them.

Street Tree Management Plan Activities

Updating the street tree inventory

To improve SDOT’s ability to capture street tree inventory changes and identify empty planting locations in the ROW we are using an application that updates street tree data using handheld devices. During the summer, SDOT will hire additional temporary staff to inventory privately maintained street trees to achieve a 100% inventory.

 

 

 

 

Maintaining street trees

For safety and tree health we schedule pruning and maintenance of SDOT trees to reduce known hazards. We also respond to emergencies when they occur.

Planting street trees

Starting in October, planting projects attempt to fill empty planting spaces identified during inventory. The City also works to replace every tree removed with at least two additional street trees.

Racial Equity Toolkit

The Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) helps SDOT assess programs like the STMP for racial disparities and inequity.  To better serve diverse communities within Seattle, a RET analysis helps ensure that the benefits of street trees are distributed throughout Seattle. We’re hoping to use data, community feedback and RET analysis to steer the plan’s work.

Initial Findings

Until 2017, no data-driven studies had been done for the STMP. To better understand street trees compared to underserved populations, we’re using Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis. We collected data about street trees per square mile of ROW and historically underserved populations in Seattle and created maps to identify trends.

Figure 1 shows the maps we created in January 2017. Each map shows street trees per mile of ROW. The left exhibits all street trees, the middle depicts SDOT street trees, and the right shows privately maintained street trees. The 2010 census recognizes underserved communities in Seattle as: neighborhoods in which the % of people of color is greater than 33.7, the average % in Seattle. These are outlined in black.

Figure 1

According to the left map, the presence of street trees per Square mile of ROW is less dominant in underserved communities, with a few exceptions. Additionally, when comparing the middle map and the right map, there are underserved areas that are darker in blue (SDOT) than pink (privately maintained). This is a legacy of the Bridging the Gap planting programs that SDOT worked on in 2006. SDOT has been committed, and will continue to work on street tree health in underserved communities through STMP work.

This data is still being explored. Moving forward we hope to get a better understanding by going more in depth with analysis. As we also update our inventory and receive community feedback, our findings may change.

How Can You Help?

Answer the survey! Get involved with Trees for Seattle!

Additional Information

If you have any questions or comments, you may:

Email seattle.trees@seattle.gov

Call 206-684-TREE (8733)

Project Funding

The project is partially funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, a nine-year levy for transportation that provides funding to improve safety, maintain streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for the growing city. The $930 million levy was passed by Seattle voters in November 2015. The STMP will invest over $9 million in Seattle’s street trees.

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