Cities and towns are getting healthy urban forests, thanks to crews

The King County crew is removing Himalayan blackberry in Park Pointe in Issaquah. The crew also is checking to see if the tree seedlings are ‘keepers’ or not. PHOTO BY: Stephanie Jackson

Washington Conservation Corps and Puget SoundCorps crews are making great strides in creating healthier forests in Washington communities.

The crews are working through the Urban Forestry Restoration Project that helps local governments make their urban forests (parks, rights-of-way, open space, watersheds, etc.) healthier.

The Project helps with removal of non-native, invasive plant species, tree planting, young tree pruning, and similar work that restores health to trees and forests in urban settings. Healthy urban trees and forests not only decrease the amount of runoff that flows into our waterways and stormwater systems, they also reduce erosion and filter stormwater to keep streams and rivers cleaner and clearer. Healthy trees are sturdier as well, lessening potential storm damage, an important consideration as we head into Washington storm season.

If you live in the Puget Sound basin or southwest Washington area, your local government can apply online to get crews working in its urban forests. Project applications are due by December 31, 2012.

How does the Project work?
Local governments request crew assistance through an application process. Proposed projects must lie within the Puget Sound Basin or in the lower Columbia River Basin and must be on publicly owned land. Local projects are ranked according to criteria that include:

  • Local commitment to urban forestry;
  • Project planning and coordination;
  • Public support and volunteer involvement; and
  • Water quality impacts and community benefits.

DNR provides to each local project partner: 

  • A news release template to assist in building public awareness and support for the local project(s);
  • Crew time for urban forestry restoration work;
  • A post-activity report that includes a description of the project and the work accomplished;
  • A template for the required three-year maintenance and monitoring plan; and
  • A template for the required annual monitoring report.

 Unlike more traditional grants, DNR does not ask for a cash match for UFRP projects, but rather for a commitment match. Each local project partner agrees to:

  • Post a news release in advance of the event;
  • Provide any permits required for project site;
  • Dispose of plant material removed during project activities (English ivy vines, blackberry canes, etc.);
  • Provide any and all plant materials required for project completion;
  • Develop and implement a three-year maintenance plan for the project site to include annual monitoring; and
  • Report monitoring results to DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program annually for three years.

Extra volunteer participation in these projects is encouraged to help educate citizens about the effects of invasive plants on forests and engage them in stewardship of their community’s urban forest.

The project is funded through the 2012 Jobs Now Bill (Engrossed Senate Bill 5127) and is administered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Urban and Community Forestry Program. DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is made possible through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service.

For more information, visit the Urban Forestry Restoration Project online, send an email to Micki McNaughton or call her at (360) 902-1637.

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