LACEY –– In an effort to revisit the city’s urban forestry plan, Lacey officials on the Land Use Committee talked about how they want to further develop the city’s trees, tree canopy and urban forest, as well as solve challenges posed by the city’s urban trees.
The approach to managing Lacey’s urban forestry plan was first developed in 2006, and is updated once every five years. A citizen-led Tree Task Force, city officials said, dug into the issues surrounding trees on residential and commercial properties.
“After a couple meetings and talking through people’s experiences, we found a huge list of issues we put into different topic areas,” said Jessica Brandt, Lacey associate city planner. “The first one was enforcement of tree regulations and how we follow up on replanting and individual lots.”
Moving trees and planting new trees in various spots in the city were also topics of importance to the committee, Brandt said.
“That came up as kind of a hot topic, and how we can manage that better,” she said.
According to Land Use Committee members, some Lacey residents occasionally come to the city with concerns over problems created by trees on residential or commercial properties. One concern, City Councilor Carolyn Cox said she’s heard, included tree removal and clearing trees to increase property values.
“Over the last year or so, we’ve had representatives from two different neighborhoods come to us,” Cox said during the meeting. “One had a dispute over whether trees were being cleared in order to enhance the value of the property above it.”
The city’s street tree program and how to replace those trees often cause confusion in the city’s homeowners association, Brandt added, and some members of the task force prioritized finding a process for removing trees on commercial properties.
“Another issue that came up was retention of trees through development,” Brandt said. “They were concerned and had a lot of questions about involving the forester in development, what the challenges are in retaining existing trees and how that impacts the tree canopy.”
Tree education and outreach, as well, were priorities to members of the task force. Determining how trees throughout the city impact climate change planning, teaching residents of the city how to properly prune and maintain trees and reaching out to landscape companies were all singled out as priorities.
While city staff, Brandt said, is interested in protecting trees and enforcing current city policies concerning urban forestry, members of the community said they wanted more flexibility in removing trees.
“So when we brought these two together and talked about it as a group, the crux of it we could all agree on was the importance of outreach and education,” Brandt said. “That’s where we’ll focus our effort initially.”
That effort might include some videos about the city’s urban trees and tree canopy, which will include information about who to contact at the city when residents have questions about tree regulations.
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