Name: Karen Black Jenkins

Title: Tree Board Member (volunteer), City of White Salmon

Favorite Tree: I don’t have one favorite tree, but generally the right tree in the right place. I do have a soft spot in my heart for a mature sycamore in an urban setting, a giant sequoia preserved in a neighborhood, and a tree lined downtown business district. Healthy street trees really add to the aesthetics of any town.

What was your path to your current role as a Tree Board Member?

Rather circuitous. I studied forest products marketing at UW, thinking I would work in sales of specialty wood products. After volunteering in urban and community forestry I learned of the many opportunities in that field, and how important urban trees are to the majority of people, who spend very little time out in nature.

Tell us about a tree-related project, initiative, or accomplishment that you’re particularly proud of.

As a new Tree City USA, the City of White Salmon hired a consulting arborist to complete an inventory of the city’s trees in its parks and in the business district. The inventory is such an important management tool for a small city, and I’m proud that the Tree Board and City Council included the project in the annual budget.  The inventory will be the foundation for future urban forestry projects going forward, including: tree species lists, maintenance of city trees and future planting projects.

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

Space for trees in urban areas will continue to be a major challenge in Washington, and across all urban areas. Trees need space above, and below, ground to thrive. Space for trees where it is needed most: near where people live, play and work will continue to be a challenge as there is more development pressure as land costs in urban areas continues to increase.  We need arborists and landscape architects working to preserve critical space for healthy trees in urban and residential landscapes, and then we need to make sure newly planted trees thrive.

A second concern is the threat of wildfire in the urban-wildland interface. With so many more people in WA who want to live closer to nature, the rural landscape is fragmented and the threat of wildfires impacting rural communities grows.


The Urban Forestry profession needs to be representative of the communities that we serve. And to that end, I challenge our readers to nominate someone for this article who represents the changing Faces of Urban Forestry. They may be a volunteer, a tree board member, a student, an early career professional, a local elected official, a college professor, or a tribal, county, municipal, or non-profit employee, or anyone else that you think deserves a chance to share their opionions and have their voice heard through this publication.

You can nominate yourself or someone else by sending an email to 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.