Image and figures excerpt from City of Snoqualmie, Natural Infrastructure Assessment, 2020
What’s the value of a city’s urban forest? An actual dollar amount answer to this question can be very useful information for a city to know and it’s a question King Conservation District and the City of Snoqualmie (City) answered with the 2019 KCD Urban Forest Health Management project: “Quantifying the Stormwater Benefit of Snoqualmie’s Publicly Managed Urban Forest.” This was critical information needed by City staff and officials to make decisions about if and how much of their surface and stormwater management fees should be used to fund their urban forestry program.
Planned and funded by KCD’s Urban Forest Health Management Program, the project brought together multiple City of Snoqualmie department staff, a team of expert environmental consultants led by The Keystone Concept, and KCD forest stewardship program staff to collaboratively assess the stormwater retention ecosystem services provided by Snoqualmie’s urban forest and the monetary value of these services. The project’s scope expanded in 2020 to include quantifying the monetary value of carbon sequestration and water quality ecosystem services provided by Snoqualmie’s urban forest. The assessment results, methods, and base data information are detailed in a final report available here: City of Snoqualmie, Natural Infrastructure Assessment, 2020.
The assessment results detailed in the project’s final report provided the City of Snoqualmie with the data needed to approve funding for the city’s urban forestry program using surface and stormwater management fees. Beginning in 2021, the City of Snoqualmie’s urban forestry program has a secure and sustainable funding source that allows the City to continue maintaining and enhancing its urban forest.
“The intelligent and hard work by all of the members of this (project) team enabled our Mayor and council to feel confident in making this decision. This concludes several years of work on Snoqualmie’s urban forest strategic plan and lays a solid foundation for the future of this program – for the benefit of Snoqualmie’s citizens, surrounding ecosystems, and surrounding communities,” said Phil Bennet, City of Snoqualmie Urban Forester, in his thank you email to partners.
The City of Snoqualmie’s funding for its urban forestry program with surface and stormwater management fees is just the most recent stage of a long journey the City has been on since 2010 to develop an urban forestry program. The City, with help from KCD and other partners, completed many other important projects prior to securing their new funding source including completing forest health and canopy cover assessments, completing a street tree inventory, developing an urban forest strategic plan, developing a volunteer program to steward forest lands, and updating city ordinances to allow use of stormwater fees to fund urban forestry. While all cities and urban forests are different, the City of Snoqualmie’s path to developing an urban forestry program is a successful model that other cities could replicate in part or whole.
If you’re interested in learning more about the City of Snoqualmie’s approach to developing an urban forestry program, Phil Bennett, Urban Forester for the City of Snoqualmie, and Lance Davisson, Principal Consultant at The Keystone Concept, prepared a presentation for the Urban & Community Forestry Stakeholder Meeting. It will be available on Washington State DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry program website along with other valuable resources to assist cities with improving their urban forestry programs and funding urban forestry projects.
KCD has often seen great interest and enthusiasm for urban forest projects that involve planting trees, doing public forest stewardship education campaigns, or starting volunteer stewardship programs. These community and on the ground type projects are really valuable and often rewarding. But for smaller cities or cities without well-established urban forestry programs, projects that are focused on increasing a city’s capacity to manage their urban forest are equally valuable and are probably more important for long-term urban forest management and sustainability. King Conservation District’s Urban Forest Health Management Program is available to help cities identify and plan projects that improve long-term city capacity to manage their urban forest.
A transplant from the Midwest, Mike joined KCD in 2015 after serving as a forest ranger in Kentucky where he led a wildland fire crew and helped landowners steward their private forests. He has varied professional experiences in vegetable farming, ecological restoration, and forestry. Mike graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2010 with a BA in Conservation Biology and History. He has been a dedicated public servant and community volunteer since high school and is excited to put down roots in and serve the communities of King County.