Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Follow along by checking in on this section to view Urban Forest Management Plan project components completed to date!
Question/Comments? Contact the Tacoma Urban Forestry Program at (253) 502-2138 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Meeting #3
View the presentation here
On December 3rd, City Council adopted Resolution No. 40492, the Urban Forest Management Plan. Implementation of this Plan began just a day later at the third and final community meeting for the Urban Forest Management Plan project. This meeting, held from 6:00pm to 7:30pm at the STAR Center's Discovery Space room, provided attendees with the outcomes of the Urban Forest Action Plan and incited action and engagement.
Including the City's Urban Forestry Program staff and the planning consultants, a total of 31 people were in attendance for the presentation. The presentation consisted of an overview of the planning process—from Phase 1 Research Summary and the Urban Forest Audit to Phase 2 Primary Framework—and provided a discussion on how the community's feedback supported the development of the Urban Forest Action Plan's strategies and actions. In addition, resources and opportunities for community engagement were discussed and the Executive Director of Tacoma Tree Foundation, Sarah Low, provided an overview of their program—just one of many ways to engage in enhancing Tacoma's urban forest.
The presentation provided on December 4th is available here and the following provides an overview of content from the presentation:
Community Meeting #3 Open Discussion
Will there be hazard tree maintenance or removal assistance outside of the defined maintenance corridors?
Consultant Response: The City is exploring cost-share options.
What defines a hazard tree? Is a tree lifting the sidewalk a hazard tree or is it something else?
Consultant Response: There is a system from the International Society of Arboriculture that is utilized.
Urban Forestry should incentivize replacement trees for those planted in inappropriate sites because of size or height restrictions.
How will 5G affect tree clearance and removal in Tacoma?
Consultant Response: Urban forestry goals are integrated with other City plans and Tacoma Municipal Code is being updated with appropriate industry standards and best practices.
Consultant Response: Standard Operation Procedures regarding or impacting urban forestry are being updated and/or created.
What is the city’s stance on tree topping?
Consultant Response: Strong stance against tree topping. There is a difference between tree topping—which reduces the tree height without considering tree health and leaves a “stub”—and reduction pruning which is conducted by utility tree companies to reduce tree height to a lateral branch.
Is Urban Forestry considering long-term maintenance when deciding what tree to plant?
Consultant Response: As part of the neighborhood tree plans to be completed annually as listed in the Action Plan, long-term maintenance requirements and approaches will be considered and determined when making tree planting decisions.
Would Urban Forestry consider leaf pick-up as a part of maintenance? And would that be a part of the city’s maintenance scheme?
Consultant Response: Tree maintenance listed in the Action Plan does not include annual leaf little clean-up but could be considered in the future.
Does Urban Forestry encourage planting evergreens?
Consultant Response: Planting evergreens is not discouraged.
What size of tree will count towards the city’s planting goals?
Consultant Response: Any size tree will count as long as it is properly planted, not invasive, etc. The City will be including the counts of tree and seedling plantings by partners.
The City would care for trees it has planted for three years following, but will there be education for residents caring for their own trees?
Consultant Response: As part of the Action Plan, education, workshops, events, materials, and information will be implemented.
Will 4H clubs be included in youth education program(s)?
Consultant Response: The City will be considering many different programs and organizations, especially those that benefit our youth.
Leaves on the sidewalk and road should be cleaned up but leaf litter has significant ecosystem benefits and can be used as compost.
Are there some places in Tacoma that need more trees than others?
Consultant Response: As part of the Urban Forest Management Plan project, priority corridors and areas for tree planting and tree maintenance were identified and maps are provided in the Urban Forest Action Plan.
Does the Urban Forestry Management Plan account for view conflicts?
Consultant Response: View conflicts will be addressed on a neighborhood and site-specific scale through the implementation of annual neighborhood tree plantings. Tree plantings and maintenance will be in accordance with industry best practices and standards and the TMC.
Are there other cities doing similar things? How do we know that the best management practices are?
Consultant Response: Many cities throughout the U.S. and specifically in this region are doing similar projects. We utilized the Arbor Day Foundation’s database of Tree City USA cities, data from the Municipal Tree Care and Management in the United States: A 2014 Urban and Community Forestry Census of Tree Activities (Hauer, et al.)
This plan will affect generations of people in Tacoma, not just us.
“I am pleased to see that fruit trees are included in this plan.”
How are we tracking progress? Are we tracking permitting requests? Will there be annual reports?
Consultant Response: The Urban Forestry Program will use the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban Forest Audit System and cross-examine outcomes and progress of actions with targets in the Action Plan to provide the annual reports.
We have to remember that there will be a lag effect to these actions. What we do now, we won’t see the full benefits of until the future.
Is there code to protect large trees in Tacoma? Is that included in the Urban Forestry Management Plan?
Consultant Response: Improvements and clarifications to urban forest policy in the TMC, Heritage Tree Program, and integration with other City planning efforts.
There should be education for realtors and developers to work towards preservation of large trees, especially.
Beginning in 2020, the Urban Forestry Team will be conducting Phase 3 of the project which consists of a Trees and Sidewalks Operations Plan, Tree Risk Reduction Plan, and Sustained Funding Source Report. Stay tuned for more information by following this website!
Community Meeting #2
On October 22nd the City of Tacoma's Urban Forestry Program and the Consulting Team hosted the second of three community meetings to engage attendees in the development of the Urban Forest Management Plan's (UFMP) vision and strategies. This meeting, held at the Eastside Community Center, attracted 27 attendees eager to participate in the meeting's exercises. Upon signing in, folks were asked to place colored pins on a large map of Tacoma indicating where they live (blue), work (yellow), and play (green). Once completed, we connected the pins to discover the interconnections we all share under One Canopy!
After a brief overview of the UFMP project, each attendee was asked to review 4 draft vision statements and choose their favorite of the 4. It was noted that the statements are drafts and that further refinement is necessary but the meeting was opened for discussion regarding the keywords, phrases, and themes that they liked or felt were missing from the statements. These draft statements are available in the presentation. General comments about the statements included:
Need to include the beneficial human and physical health impacts of urban forests.
Need to clarify the meaning of "cohesive".
The vision statement needs to emphasize the importance of the partnership between the City and its residents to achieve a shared vision.
Important words to include: “healthy”, “dynamic”, and “diverse”.
Clarify what "understory vegetation” refers to.
Vision statement needs to include a commitment to action.
Emphasize the goal of equitable access to urban forests across the City.
Need to mention we are part of the ecosystem.
Need to include the mention of historic trees adding to the heritage and value of the City.
Need to think about steps to improve Grit City program.
A strategy building exercise was then held to discuss approaches to achieving a shared vision. 6 example strategies were provided in the presentation along with the associated "cost" of implementing the strategy. The example strategies and associated costs included:
A) City Street Tree Maintenance Responsibility .... $$$$
B) Tree & Sidewalk Conflicts / Tree Protection .... $$$
C) Tree Planting (30% goal, fruit trees, other) .... $$
D) Tree Code Revision / Enforcement .... $$
E) City Staffing (Outreach/Education) .... $$
F) Heritage Tree Program .... $
Each strategy and the "cost" was listed on individual buckets. Each attendee was given 10 tokens and asked to allocate their tokens based on their desired strategies, while understanding the cost and limited resources. A seventh bucket was available for attendees to provide additional comments or strategies.
Details about the example strategies were provided and an open discussion followed the exercise. It should be noted that these strategies are provided as examples and final UFMP strategies are still in development.
The following provides a summary of the strategy building exercise:
Ranked #1 - Tree Planting ($$) with 21 entries (42 tokens)
Ranked #2 - City Staffing (Outreach/Education) ($$) with 20 entries (41 tokens)
Ranked #3 - Heritage Tree Program ($) with 19 entries (19 tokens)
Ranked #4 - City Street Tree Maintenance Responsibility ($$$$) with 13 entries (54 tokens)
Ranked #5 - Tree Code Revision/Enforcement ($$) with 10 entries (19 tokens)
Ranked #6 - Tree & Sidewalk Conflicts/Tree Protection ($$$) with 6 entries (19 tokens)
Other - 17 tokens and 7 written comments submitted and recorded in meeting notes
A copy of the presentation is available on SlideShare and the notes gathered from the meeting are provided below (Please note, the following summary is not a consensus of citywide values, concerns, ideas, or questions relating to the city's urban forest and is not the sole source of information used to develop the Urban Forest Management Plan's vision, goals, and strategies. Additional opportunities for feedback are available at the November meeting and the online survey open through October 30th. See the Events page for more details):
To be completed.
Community Meeting #1
On September 18th the City of Tacoma's Urban Forestry Program and the Consulting Team hosted a community meeting to engage attendees in the development of the Urban Forest Management Plan's vision and strategies. This meeting, held at the Washington Elementary School, generated dynamic discussions regarding the urban forest resource, the programs managing it, the potential risks threatening the protection and enhancement of trees, and the opportunities available to strengthen implementation of a management plan. A copy of the presentation is available on SlideShare and the notes gathered from the meeting are provided below (Please note, the following summary is not a consensus of citywide values, concerns, ideas, or questions relating to the city's urban forest and is not the sole source of information used to develop the Urban Forest Management Plan's vision, goals, and strategies. Additional opportunities for feedback are available at the October and November community meetings and the upcoming online survey. See the Events page for more details):
Would like to see tax credits to incentivize planting and/or maintaining trees.
Would like to see the City take responsibility for “median trees” (i.e. public Right-of-Way, “ROW”).
Would like to see valuation of established trees for mitigation, in case of damage or removal.
Would like to see required green roofs and/or compensatory replanting during development.
Would like to see tree protection – Fireman’s Park as an example where the City needs to improve.
We should hold any meetings to follow along Pierce Transit bus routes.
We need to take into consideration that areas of low income typically also have fewer trees.
Do we have tools like GIS to find planting opportunities?
Q1. What do you want your urban forest to look like 10 years from now? For future generations?
Peter (lives by Wright Park) would like to be able to park or rest under a tree anywhere he goes.
It is very hot to go shopping in areas with a lot of pavement. There could be pervious pavement instead and we should be planting trees along walkways and in parking lots, and schools too. Strong interest in stormwater management.
Luisa would like to see more fruit trees in Tacoma– as a food source –maybe in areas of low income.
Jess would like to see proactive tree replacement and tree management – working with businesses and residents.
Michael on the west side would like to see the goal of 30% canopy cover reached or exceeded.
Would also like to see an urban forest that is diverse and resilient to climate change.
Other folks chimed in to agree with resilience – drought tolerance, prefer native but are OK with exotic species too. Just no invasives.
Research shows that a goal of 40% canopy cover is an achievable level for the region and based on the City’s available space.
It would enable more benefits derived from our urban forest.
Barbara would like to see all urban and suburban streets lined with trees.
There should be protection for existing street trees.
Replanting requirements for developers should be enforced/improved.
Would like to see better habitat corridors in Tacoma for wildlife and benefits and uses.
All streets should be lined with trees.
There should be permissions required to cut trees.
People would like to see more effort put towards invasive removal: i.e. Ivy, Blackberry, and Scotch broom.
An educational campaign around trees:
Eliminate bad pruning practices at shopping districts.
Address fear of storm damage, which inadvertently results in tree removals, sometimes inappropriately targeted towards Douglas firs.
Youth education is really important to teach about the value of trees and reduce fear of trees in storms.
Educate about the permitting process so people can request stop work notices.
Educate tree workers to raise competency about tree pruning/maintenance, etc.
Increased fines and/or punitive measures for permit violations involving trees.
Require arborist credentials to perform street tree maintenance.
Only companies registered with Tacoma as having certified arborists on staff and trained in Tacoma’s street tree maintenance standards should be allowed to work on ROW trees.
Would like to see more evergreens in Tacoma – at least ensure a mix of deciduous and evergreen because evergreens provide green to a dreary winter landscape and intercept late fall/winter precipitation.
There are concerns about 5G construction and other construction projects. The City should deny certain projects in favor of maintaining tree canopy.
Enforce project declines and decisions with the tree canopy goal.
The City should manage the care of existing trees during construction.
Proactive maintenance and a shift in responsibility to the City for right-of-way trees.
“How else would we reach a 30% canopy goal if the City isn’t responsible?”
There seems to be a lack of communication between City departments when it concerns trees, especially with engineers and public works.
We need to improve coordination between departments working with trees, hardscapes, utilities, etc.
Construction projects should be seen as an opportunity to exceed our planting requirements (City leading by example). “One Canopy” and 30% canopy cover is a priority and should not fall on the residents to reach that goal.
Q2. What would 30% tree cover look and feel like? What would it take to achieve this?
Tacoma would feel cool, comfortable, and safe.
Incorporate green buildings into Tacoma and/or compensatory planting for development.
Future developments should be held accountable to reach canopy goals.
Realtors should integrate the “One Canopy” value for new homeowners.
Would like to see “keystone” trees protected in perpetuity.
Registration of private trees should be an option to protect them.
Both mandatory & voluntary tree protection should be on the table.
Tree protection with property transfer/sale (on the title).
Staffing dedicated to working with the public, businesses, arborists, and landscapers.
Trees in tree wells on the sidewalk also need protection – Is there a process to deal with this?
We can help to reach 30% goal by planting in and around parking lots.
Increased tree protection for new tree plantings like Grit City Program.
When there is a big development, it is critical that they too be required to replant.
Strengthen development regulation to offset tree loss.
Q3. If you could change Tacoma’s environment in one way, what would it be? How would the City’s urban forest be different than it is now?
Less pavement - We will need to identify places to de-pave and replace with planting areas.
We could have a public nomination process.
This needs to be done on a faster/ bigger scale than it is currently.
A heat island survey could lead to areas identified as high need for de-pave.
More funding - We want the City of Tacoma to support and fund urban forestry as much as possible – this will be the only way to be proper stewards of urban forests and to reach our 30% goal.
Increased staffing and capacity.
Integrated throughout the City of Tacoma.
Triple or quadruple the current ~$300,000 annual budget.
There should be a volunteer ambassador/coordinator role to train volunteers to advocate for trees.
Example: Tacoma Tree Foundation
There should be and excise tax for every property sale as an urban forestry funding source.
Incentives to plant trees especially in semi-paved and unused lots/properties.
Discounts on property tax for tree owners.
More canopy on private land - Incentivize private owners to expand canopy.
“What Brought You Here Today?” exercise
“I like trees!”
“New in town”
“I want to see more trees in Tacoma and shade”
“Constructive improvement of canopy coverage!”
“We have an event with tree planting as a major component and want to see what is out in Tacoma”
“My concern for a greater tree canopy for both aesthetic and environmental reason”
“Keep Tacoma green by protecting canopy and planting more trees”
“Urban trees are a primary human health intervention”
“Researching what is happening in Tacoma regarding trees”
The following word cloud summarizes the most common words, phrases, and themes shared by the attendees:
City Staff Interviews
In early May of 2019, the city's Environmental Services Department and the UFMP project consultants met with various city staff to discuss the interactions and operations relating to urban forestry. The meetings and interviews were organized by 6 themes:
#1 Operations, Tree Hazards, Risk Management & the UFMP
#2 Planning, Design & the UFMP
#3 Data, Information Technology & the UFMP
#4 Outreach, Communication, Marketing & the UFMP
#5 Neighborhood Revitalization & the UFMP
#6 City Code, Policies, Standards & the UFMP
A combined total of 10 different departments or offices were represented at the meetings:
• Neighborhood & Community Services Department (NCS)
• City Attorney (Legal)
• Public Works Department (PWD)
• Planning & Development Services Department (PDS)
• Environmental Services Department (EnvScs)
• Information Technology Department (IT)
• City Manager's Office
• Office of Equity & Human Rights
• Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality
• Community Economic Development Department (CED)
These 10 departments/offices included representation from 25 Work Groups ("WG"):
• General / Nuisance Codes WG
• Neighborhood Enhancement Team WG
• Civil Division WG
• Grounds Maintenance WG
• Site Review WG
• Traffic Programs WG
• Engineering Project Management WG
• Street Design WG
• Sidewalk Program WG
• ADA Services WG
• Technical & Business Operations WG
• GIS Service WG
• Media & Communications Division
• Sustainability WG
• Equity & Human Rights
• Customer Support Center (311)
• EnvScs Office of Environmental Policy & Sustainability Division
• Neighborhood Enhancement Team WG, Neighborhood Council Liaison
• Tacoma Arts Commission
• Neighborhood Business District Revitalization WG
• Site Review WG (DePave Program)
• Open Space WG
• Critical Areas WG
• Planning WG
• PDS Land Use Division
Tacoma Municipal Code Review & Recommendations
In August, the Environmental Services Department and consultants presented to the City Council Infrastructure Planning and Sustainability Committee to discuss the outcomes of the benchmarking research and Tacoma Municipal Code ("TMC") expert review. The following provides examples of the document and presentation shared with the Committee. To obtain a copy please contact the Urban Forestry Program at (253) 502-2138 or email@example.com.
Example of the benchmarking research conducted to inform the TMC recommendations
The table above summarizes the research conducted in regards to existing landmark tree programs across the state. Landmark trees may consist of trees of unique species, size, location, and/or age. Landmark tree programs is just one facet of the extensive benchmarking research.
Summary of the Tacoma Municipal Code Recommended Changes
A. Identify and align urban and community forestry goals and policy with One Tacoma policy. B. Develop new stand-alone Urban & Community Forestry Chapter in TMC.
C. Renovate existing TMC to remove discrepancies and align with best management practices.
Review TMC revision ordinances
Update Urban Forest Manual
Update supplemental marketing information
A. One Tacoma Alignment with Urban & Community Forestry
Equity and Accessibility
Municipal Code and Policy
B. Elements of the Consolidated Urban & Community Forestry Chapter in TMC
Definition of Urban Forest
Landmark Tree Protection
ROW Tree Protection
City-wide Tree Planting Goals
Reference to Urban Forest Manuals and other Policies
Tree Pruning Standards
Urban Forest Committee/ Commission
B. Anticipated Outcomes of the Consolidated Urban & Community Forestry Chapter in TMC
Single source of urban forest policy, outside of standards triggered through development/ disturbance actions.
Improve cross-sectoral processes; increase permit efficiency and workflow.
Promote policies through regulation, incentives and stewardship.
C. TMC Renovation Goals
Renew outdated TMC & update to reflect industry best management practices.
Correct inconsistencies/conflicts between existing TMC & Policy.
Remove references to permits & process that no longer exists.
Correct conflicts between critical areas and right-of-way codes.
Urban Forest Resource & Program Audit
The Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Audit, developed by the U.S. Forest Service, is being implemented to conduct a gap analysis of Tacoma's urban forest. This system is designed to provide a framework for comprehensively evaluating urban forest management programs. The primary objectives of the program review are to:
engage the full spectrum of the city's management team: executive, financial, resource, and outreach,
provide program direction that increases the level of professionalism in urban forest management,
conduct a gap analysis of management practices and the health of green assets,
increase the health of the green assets managed by the program, and…
optimize this management for identified ecosystem services (i.e. reach an acceptable benefit:cost ratio).
The Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Audit was produced by J. Abbot, D. Hartel, S. Kidd, E. Macie, and C. Mitchell in 2015.
For more information visit the U.S. Forest Service website.
Categories of the Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Audit
Management Policy and Ordinances
Professional Capacity and Training
Funding and Accounting
Decision and Management Authority
Urban Forest Management Plans (existing)
Policies, Standards, and Best Management Practices
Green Asset Evaluation
Each category listed above contains a series of elements that will be evaluated and scored by the project team. The evaluation is based on the information discovery, benchmarking research, city staff interviews, and public input.
The shortcomings and opportunities identified in the auditing process and gap analysis will inform the short and long-term strategies in the Urban Forest Management Plan.
Results of the Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Audit will be shared on this website. Stay tuned!
City Council's Infrastructure, Planning, & Sustainability Committee
Presentation of Tacoma's Urban Forest Management Plan - August 21, 2019
On August 21, 2019 the City's Environmental Services Department and urban forestry consultants presented the Urban Forest Management Plan project to IPS. The presentation included recommended changes to Tacoma Municipal Code for improved urban forest management. These recommended changes include alignment with the City's comprehensive plan, "One Tacoma", a new TMC Title for Urban Forestry, and renovation of antiquated code language relating to urban forest management best practices.
The presentation to IPS is available here. Contact the City's Urban Forestry Program for any questions or comments.
Presentation of the UFMP Project to the Sustainable Tacoma Commission
July 25, 2019
The City's Environmental Services Department and urban forestry consultants presented the Urban Forest Management Plan project to STC on July 25, 2019. The presentation included an overview of the planning approach and a request for feedback from STC for various components of the Plan. STC provided suggestions for community outreach and engagement exercises and approaches to inform the development of the UFMP.
The presentation to STC is available here. Contact the City's Urban Forestry Program for any questions or comments.
Puyallup Watershed Initiative Communities of Interest
Tacoma UFMP Presentation
September 20, 2019
The PWI FCOI provides coordinated, focused outreach in order to drive conversation about sustainable management strategies for forests to contribute to the quality of life with jobs, cleaner air and water, and recreation opportunities. The PWI focuses its work on forestlands and urban forest habitats within the Puyallup Watershed and it is the PWI’s hope that the watershed will become a model for conservation and stewardship of forest resources that will eventually be adopted by other watersheds.
On September 20, 2019 Tacoma's Urban Forestry Program presented the Urban Forest Management Plan project to highlight the project's expected outcomes that align with the goals of PWI FCOI.