KUOW Spotlight: South King County Tree Canopy Assessment Initiative

As heard on KUOW.org 94.9King Conservation District is tasked with one of the most interesting and multi-faceted opportunities facing any conservation district: to extend its traditional reach and work in the backyards, public easements, and parks and open spaces in the incorporated landscapes of the 34 cities we are proud to call our partners. Healthy trees and forests are important attributes in our communities – they increase property values, decrease crime rates, and bring well-studied health benefits to communities. Urban forestry programs across the country are expanding their historical focus on aesthetics and heat islands to include wildlife habitat in cities, storm water management, water quality improvement, pollution abatement and carbon sequestration.

As managed growth concentrates development within the Urban Growth Boundary, healthy urban forests, tree canopies and street trees become even more necessary. KCD works to increase the resilience of urban tree canopies and capture the ecological, recreational and other values of green infrastructure by helping residents and landowners actively manage urban trees in yards and public open spaces. KCD has built on its successful partnerships with 15 south King County member cities* to expand conservation of urban tree canopies and grow green infrastructure by supporting, providing and collaborating on tree canopy assessments.

*Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Des Moines, Kent, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, and Tukwila

Mapping, Assessment & Analysis, and Planning & Communications Tools

With our contractor, Plan-it Geo, KCD engaged with 12 cities (excluding the Port of Seattle’s ACE communities of Burien, Des Moines, and SeaTac) using GIS and remote-sensing technologies to map current tree canopy and other land cover classes city-wide. The land cover data were processed through a complex GIS model to provide metrics for city-specified geographies. These assessment results and subsequent analyses were assembled in an illustrative factsheet and summary report for each city.

For all 15 cities, an additional analysis was provided to produce a baseline of canopy cover impacts on stormwater capacity using current land cover conditions and hydrology. All the cities’ maps and data were loaded in the web-based planning software, Canopy Planner, to support planning, community development, and urban forest management.

Get a pdf summary of the Tree Canopy Assessment here:
South King County Tree Canopy Assessment Single-Page

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