Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines are joining the ranks of nine other Green City Partnerships around Puget Sound — collaborations between Forterra, the Port of Seattle, city governments, community organizations, and residents to actively care for trees in forested parks, natural areas, neighborhoods, and other spaces throughout the region.
“The intention is more than 9,000 thriving acres of connected forest, from Everett to Tacoma,” a statement says.
As many Readers may recall, the Port of Seattle in 2017 implemented a somewhat controversial ‘Flight Corridor Safety Program’ where they were cutting down trees that they considered a danger to flight traffic in and out of Sea-Tac Airport (read our previous coverage here). This new project appears to be a part of the re-growing phase of that program.
“Forterra is eager for input from residents of SeaTac, Des Moines and Burien on what places to prioritize for early attention and how individuals, families and groups hope to get involved. Child care, food and interpretation will be provided at events.”
Community members unable to attend an open house can complete a short online survey here by Nov. 7.
Here are the upcoming Open Houses:

  • Monday, Oct. 29: Des Moines Open House
    Monday, October 29th | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    Des Moines Beach Park, Building B, 22030 Cliff Ave. S., Des Moines, WA 98198
  • Wednesday, Nov. 7: Burien Open House
    Wednesday, November 7 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    Burien Library, 1st Floor Community Meeting Room, 400 SW 152nd, Burien, WA 98166

Here’s more info from Forterra:

Expansion of the Green Cities Program to these new cities is made possible by multi-year funding from the Port of Seattle and its Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund. Established in 2016, the ACE Fund recognizes that communities near the airport experience more impacts from airport operations and should also experience more benefits.
“Helping the airport’s neighbor cities create a healthier and more extensive green canopy will have innumerable environmental, social, and economical benefits,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “Communities closest to the airport experience more of the impacts and as a result should experience these unique benefits. We appreciate the partnership with the cities and Forterra to focus on community and environmental health while creating a still more beautiful place to live.”
Forterra is organizing start-up of the new Green City Partnerships. Already it has completed a preliminary assessment of the extent of the tree canopy in the cities, along with other land covers such as shrubs, grass and impervious surfaces. Of particular interest is how these coverings match to places with residences, schools and community centers.
“As compared to the rest of King County, communities in South King County face severe health and income disparities” says Michelle Connor, President and CEO of Forterra. “This program is an opportunity to improve outcomes for public health in Des Moines, Burien, and SeaTac, since trees clean the air and encourage people to get outdoors to walk and play and spend time with one other. We’re grateful to the Port of Seattle and leaders in the communities for the chance to create new Green City Partnerships and make these vibrant cities even greater.”
Adds Joanna Nelson de Flores, Director of Forterra’s Green Cities Program, “I urge people to come out and tell us how they want to get involved and what spots in their community should be an early priority. Together we have the potential not only to make cities healthier and more livable, but get people working on the land, meeting their neighbors and having fun.”
A large body of scientific and economic research documents the many benefits of urban trees, including:

  • Filtering up to a third of fine particle pollutants within 300 yards of a tree.
  • Reducing rates of asthma, cardiac disease, and strokes due to improved air quality.
  • Cooling city streets by two to four degrees F, reducing deaths from heat and cutting energy use.
  • Protecting biodiversity, including habitat for migrating birds and pollinators.
  • Reducing obesity levels by increasing physical activity including walking and cycling.
  • Managing stormwater, reducing urban flooding, and keeping pollutants out of waterways, including Puget Sound (and its threatened orcas).
  • Increasing neighborhood property values.
  • Reducing stress by buffering noise and bolstering mental wellbeing.

Despite their importance, urban trees are disappearing. An April 18 paper authored by two U.S. Forest Service scientists found that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing about 36 million trees a year. In Washington State, the loss between 2009 and 2014 is estimated at 3,350 acres. Development is playing a part, but so too temperature increases and drought because of climate change. Healthy urban trees across the U.S. store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, or roughly 13 percent of the country’s annual CO2 emissions.
A program of regional sustainability group Forterra, Green City Partnerships bring together community members, local governments, businesses, schools and nonprofits to improve quality of life and connections to nature by restoring, planting and caring for trees in forested parks, natural areas, neighborhoods, and other spaces throughout the city.
With the addition of SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines, there are now twelve Green Cities. The others are Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland, Redmond, Kent, Puyallup, Everett, Tukwila and Snoqualmie. Collectively, these programs:

  • Serve 1.5 million people
  • Have 2,305 acres currently in restoration
  • Have, since 2005, mobilized more than 1.23 million volunteer hours

Operated by the Port of Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA, KSEA) is ranked as the 9th busiest U.S. airport, serving 46.9 million passengers and more than 425,800 metric tons of air cargo in 2017. With a regional economic impact of more than $22.5 billion in business revenue, Sea-Tac generates more than 151,400 jobs (87,300 direct jobs), representing over $3.6 billion in direct earnings and more than $442 million in state and local taxes. Thirty-four airlines serve 91 non-stop domestic and 28 international destinations including Canada, Mexico and seasonal operations.
Forterra secures the places — urban, rural and wild — that are keystones of a sustainable future for all. Our mission ranges across Washington, from iconic wild landscapes, to working farms and forests, to lands in our cities for parks, the arts, community purposes, and affordable housing. Work includes stewardship and restoration projects, often performed by volunteers. And we champion policies that marry sustainability and economic development. More at forterra.org.


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