Time to ponder about a forestry plan | Looking Forward

By Neil Tibbott | Jun 25, 2015

By now, informed readers have heard that action on the proposed tree code has been indefinitely postponed, and it’s time to ponder what an Urban Forestry Management Plan might look like for Edmonds.

While we could go into a technical discussion about a UFMP, let’s save that for the technicians.

Instead, let’s ask … How would a Forestry Plan help Edmonds?

I can think of three possible benefits of entering a planning process sooner, rather than later.

1. A new code governing trees in our city could only come back if it was warranted. If a study showed that trees or wildlife habitat or soil stability has been degraded, then a policy would emerge to address the issues.

Once a policy is established, then the city could determine if the current code and enforcement is adequate for supporting the policy.

If it does, then our job is done. If not, then planners will know what kind of rules and guidelines to set.

2. A proper planning process would involve many more people from many more perspectives than those who focus on preserving trees alone.

Besides compiling input from many people, the planning process could also tap into experts who live in our city from a large variety of disciplines.

We’re blessed as a city to have so many capable people. It’s a shame not to include them in a discovery process.

3. A comprehensive planning process would also help us articulate a broader range of values including: views, landscaping practices, streetscapes, parks, natural wildlife habitats and more.

It’s those values that often come into conflict when we assume everyone is operating with the same set of expectations.

Expressing our collective values at least gives us an opportunity to figure out how to bring balance to a rather complex discussion.

What are some possible outcomes? This is where we dream out loud a bit.

1. We might discover that different parts of the city have differing needs for a tree code. The plan could help define zones where taller trees and wildlife habitat should be intensively restored, for example.

2. A plan could also help us define which kinds of trees or shrubs need to be preserved and others, like perhaps Alders, that could be cleared without a permit.

3. Finally, we might all learn something about what kind of trees grow well, and what to expect over time after they are planted.

At the public hearing, I heard a lot of willingness to extend neighborliness to one another without requiring city action to take care of problems.

Occasionally, we plant trees that don’t grow as expected, they encroach on a neighbor’s property, and then we find ourselves in a regrettable situation. But, when neighbors become neighborly and can work on a solution together, problems are resolved before any damage is done.

That sounds like an Edmonds kind of way of handling the situation.

Looking forward …

A new group, called Operation Balance, is forming to keep citizens informed and involved. Vivian Olson, who spoke up at the public hearing, has agreed to head up this effort. Citizens who spoke at the hearing may want to sign up for the Facebook group, Operation Balance Edmonds.

Or, if you prefer to stay informed by email, you can join the group with the following address: OperationBalance@gmail.com. When you contact the group, be sure to offer help about whatever organizing skills you’re able to contribute.


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