Article By Linden Lampman, DNR Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager

One of the many benefits of working in urban forestry is that I get to meet amazing people and develop partnerships with organizations that are doing great work all across the state promoting trees and tree care in communities. I’d like to take time to recognize the collaborative work in which we engaged, thanks to our many partners.

Over the last several years, we’ve received funding for several large-scale projects through the U.S. Forest Service and Western Forestry Leadership Coalition Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant Program. Here is an update on what we and our partners are working on:

King Conservation District is lead on Promoting Stormwater Benefits from Urban Canopy Cover in Puget Sound. The District is testing and calibrating hydrology tools and developing a user’s Handbook with guidelines to assist stormwater managers with assess the value of trees in the landscape.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is lead on a project that uses tree canopy analysis to maximize urban forestry investments. The project consists of a three-county regional urban tree canopy assessment and ecosystem valuation (King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties) that local communities will be able to access for help with community forestry planning. The project also pilots new urban forest carbon protocols.

By the way, TNC is also ramping up regional efforts to expand education about the many benefits of trees growing in urban settings. Even if you do not live in the Puget Sound region, TNC’s webpage, Rooted in Puget Sound, contains an incredible number of resources for tree stewards and tree managers.

The City of Tacoma is leading a project titled Equity in the Urban Forest: A Sustainable Model for Green Regional Growth. The project focuses on the Tacoma Mall Regional Growth Center community and seeks to develop a plan that incorporates green stormwater infrastructure to increase tree canopy cover and connect with neighborhood residents.

Another non-profit partner, Forterra, is just starting a project which is designed as a student-based community engagement model to implement urban forestry projects at 3-4 different K-12 schools and adjacent public properties within the Highline School District. This approach will inform similar projects in communities within the Green City Partnership network and beyond.

In addition to LSR grant projects, we have several other projects in the works:

As reported in a previous edition of Tree Link, we partnered with the Washington Invasive Species Council (WISC) to develop an Urban Forest Pest Readiness Playbook to assist communities in assessing risk to the urban forest by insects and pathogens. After completing a local assessment, the Playbook guides communities in preparing response, mitigation, and recovery actions. Learn more and download a copy of the Playbook by visiting https://invasivespecies.wa.gov/projects/pest-ready/. Thanks to our funding partner, the US Forest Service, we will continue outreach efforts to help communities prepare for pests with assistance from WISC in 2020.

This year the US Forest Service provided funding for us to work with the Washington State Department of Agriculture on a project titled Enhancing Rapid Response and Mitigation for Exotic Pests in Washington State which will aggregate existing tree inventory data, analyze for data gaps, and collect additional data in communities that are most vulnerable to invasive pests and pathogens. As part of the project, an inventory data collection tool will be made available to Washington communities who are interested implementing tree inventory projects and sharing data to add to the statewide database.

Thanks again to our partner the US Forest Service, Urban and Community Forestry Learning Scholarships will be available in 2020 to community urban forest managers, tree stewards, and students in urban forestry programs.

Partnering with DNR’s Aquatics Division, Washington State University Stormwater Center, Clemson University and The Evergreen State College we are engaged in a research project that measures the water budgets of individual local trees. The purpose of this project, funded through the Department of Ecology’s Stormwater Action Monitoring program, is to develop a rigorously derived hydrologic dataset that shows how stormwater is captured by existing common native evergreen and deciduous trees, based on the physio-climatic conditions of the Pacific Northwest. Read more about the project and track progress by navigating to this link.

Our partnerships with Spokane Conservation District (Garth Davis), Cascadia Conservation District (Sandy Letzing) and DNR’s NW Region (Jeremy Porter) help us to make sure all communities in eastern and northwestern Washington have access to urban forestry technical assistance. Of course Ben Thompson and I are always available to answer any questions that you may have, as well.

Although most urban forestry programs are small and have limited resources, their interests and goals  align with those of many different partners. No matter where you work, it is a good idea to take the time to talk to residents, non-profit organizations, local governments, or state agency staff. You might just find a way to work together and realize your shared goals