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Urban trees

County proposal doesn’t protect environment

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Thank you to the Herald for allowing both sides of an important environmental issue — how we will keep trees in our urban areas. (Commentaries on May 24 and May 31).
Futurewise and Pilchuck Audubon Society have been involved with this issue since the first tree replacement codes were adopted in 2009. Like many of you, we want livable, sustainable communities that include affordable housing, open space and clean water.
Large trees can help bring a sense of place and tranquility to our busy lives, not to mention help keep our air and water clean. As pointed out in the commentary on May 31, our large trees protect our soil stability, clean our air, provide noise reduction, help reduce climate impacts, and take up huge amounts of water that otherwise runoff with pollutants to our streams, rivers and Puget Sound.
With good policies and regulations, we know it's possible for our region to grow while protecting our environment.
Unfortunately, the current tree proposal under consideration by the county fails to adequately protect our environment. Under the proposal, properties can be clear-cut provided they are replaced with six-foot saplings, which everyone hopes will provide for a 30 percent tree canopy in 20 or 30 years. But there's no guarantee the replacement trees will survive and the little incentive the county offers to retain existing significant trees in new residential developments will allow for reducing the future 30 percent tree canopy by up to 250 percent!
We believe this is the wrong approach.
Instead of continuing to allow for clear cutting, grading off our precious top soil, building homes, and then replanting—which won't include any monitoring or enforcement—we need a process that allows for our healthiest, strongest, and most significant stands of trees to be retained for future generations.
One of the reasons people want to live in Snohomish County is its natural beauty. Our elected officials shouldn't fall into the false choice that protecting the environment hurts our economy. Otherwise we'll have lots of new, empty homes and buildings.
Please stand with us as we stand up for the trees. Our remaining undeveloped land needs significant tree retention.
Kristin Kelly
Snohomish/Skagit Program Director, Futurewise, Smart Growth Director, Pilchuck Audubon Society, Snohomish

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