Name: Katie Kosanke
Title: Urban Forester
Employer: City of Spokane, Parks & Recreation Department
Credentials: ISA Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist; Tree Risk Assessment Qualified
Favorite Tree: Western larch is one of my top favorites because of its bright green foliage, distinct structure and spectacular fall color

What was your path to your current role as a professional?

I have always loved spending time outdoors and wanted to pursue a career where I could spend time outside and make a difference in what I do. I went through the Environmental Science/Horticulture program at Spokane Community College and the arboriculture aspects particularly interested me. I obtained employment at the City of Coeur d’Alene in the urban forestry division where I had the pleasure of working for eleven years. For the first five, I was fortunate to work with Karen Haskew who built the program entirely from the ground up and was a wonderful mentor. While there, I was able to move the program forward in numerous ways. Now as a new employee for the City of Spokane, I am thrilled to be part of another great program and city where urban forestry is an integral part of the community.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy collaborating with others – city employees, officials, citizens, industry professionals and volunteers. It is very rewarding when these individuals and groups get excited about our programs and projects and help promote and support urban forestry goals. The most gratifying moments are when it is apparent others also recognize the importance and benefits of trees – such as when public works divisions take extra steps to preserve or integrate trees into creative infrastructure projects (on their own or with little prompting).

In your opinion, what is the most pressing challenge facing urban and community forests in Washington today and why?

One major challenge facing urban and community forests in Washington is growth and development. Development is absolutely thriving and while new trees are being planted through requirements, many mature trees are being removed to allow for maximum site development. Over time, this has a significant impact on canopy cover. Protection and preservation of mature trees needs to be further promoted.

Why do you think it is important to generate support for your urban forestry program? (or similar)

It is crucial to generate program support and convey the benefits of trees and the need for enhancing, maintaining and preserving community trees. An investment is required for a healthy and safe community forest, which will provide great returns now and for future generations. As communities grow, it is important programs increase in both staff and funding to meet these objectives.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you know of someone who deserves to be featured in a future “Faces” article? You can nominate yourself or someone else by sending an email to urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov. Please include the person’s name and contact information along with three to five sentences on why they are a good fit for this article. Nominees’ enthusiasm, commitment to their work, and unique perspective is more important than their credentials, title, or tenure.

All nominations will be considered by DNR Urban Forestry staff before selecting individuals to feature in upcoming editions of Tree Link.