South Sound News

City of Tacoma details efforts to plant new trees

Tacoma is taking a tree planting effort to a new level trying to flood at least one part of the city with new trees.

If you drive on East Wright Avenue in Tacoma’s McKinley Hill neighborhood you’ll see some large trees, but you’ll also see stretches with no trees at all. It’s that type of situation that the city of Tacoma wants to change.

Brandon Kovaly lives in the McKinley Hill neighborhood and said that it’s just the natural way to plant more trees if there aren’t enough of them in the area.

“Trees just provide a natural separation from everything else. In general, people feel better when they’re out walking among trees and stuff… seeing a bunch of buildings just gets tiring after a while,” Kovaly said.

Tacoma has partnered with the Tacoma Tree Foundation to launch a community trees program this Fall.

Jessie Boyne cooks at Top of Tacoma Bar which has a few small trees in front, and not much shade. He’s in favor of planting more if it can work for McKinley Way which does not have much tree cover in the business district.

“I think it would be good, trees are good -- they give off oxygen and help our planet,” Boyne said.

Boyne is okay with the neighborhood-based planting project and tree giveaways that could color the area a little greener since he admits Tacoma has some regions that could use the plantings.

“There’s certain spots that have a lot of trees and there are certain spots that really don’t,” Boyne said.

Rick Slater is only against the trees in front of his garage and messes up the sidewalk that’s right in front of his business. He too favors more planting.

“I don’t have an issue with that because it’s going to get rid of these plum trees, I hope, and replace them with something that’s not as high maintenance,” Slater said.

He’s hoping a greener McKinley Way means more people here.

Tacoma wants a quarter of this business district covered with trees, more in the residential areas. Getting that means giving away 250 street trees -- a small price for more green.

“Partnerships are key to the success of our long-range efforts to make Tacoma a more livable city for all,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “I look forward to seeing what we can do through the Community Trees Program with the support of our partners at the Tacoma Tree Foundation.”

The city of Tacoma said that through its Neighborhood Planning Program, residents in the McKinley Hill neighborhood had identified tree planting as one of the top priorities. These priorities include developing a neighborhood tree planting program that focuses on outreach and aims to achieve a 25% tree canopy cover in the business district and a 35% tree canopy cover in residential areas.

Requests from residents for free street trees in the Green Blocks McKinley Hill project area will be accepted now through September 17. The city also says that outreach is underway in the McKinley Hill neighborhood. It said a “tree steward” training will be offered on September 16.

“People in Tacoma are excited about planting trees,” said Tacoma Tree Foundation Executive Director Lowell Wyse. “The Community Trees Program will lower barriers to tree planting by bringing resources and education to neighborhoods experiencing the greatest level of need.”

“Community engagement and involvement are critical to the success of our efforts to grow Tacoma’s tree canopy,” said Deputy Mayor Kristina Walker. “I urge everyone across our community to join us in this important work.”

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