City hopes to encourage foliage in Tacoma
Expect Tacoma to be even shadier in a few years. The city’s “30 by 30” goal, part of Tacoma’s comprehensive plan, aims to have 30 percent of the city covered by tree canopy in 2030.
Currently, Tacoma has a 19 percent tree cover, said Ramie Pierce, urban forester for the city of Tacoma. By comparison, Seattle has a 23 percent cover. The national average for cities is 35 percent.
Tacoma city councilman Ryan Mello is spearheading the effort. “We do need to treat it like a campaign to get people interested and educated on helping this city achieve that goal,” he said. “The benefits are going to be profound for our health and quality of life.”
Trees, which clean the air of fine particulates and reduce heat from concrete and asphalt, are even more important in a port city like Tacoma, Mello said.
The 30 by 30 goal will be achieved on multiple levels, Mello said, through plantings on commercial, private and public lands.
But homeowners shouldn’t expect a stick, Mello said, just carrots. He hopes to have free trees, planting assistance and education for homeowners interested in participating. However, new construction and significant remodels will probably have requirements to incorporate vegetation and tree canopy in their plans, Mello said.
The rollout will go slowly and be heavily incentivized, Mello said.
Pilot programs will debut in two business districts in 2013, Mello said. The city will do its part by increasing planting on city right of ways in those business districts.
Plant Amnesty founder Cass Turnbull agrees that any program that promotes tree planting needs to have a reward motivation.
“It has to be monetary in my mind. You can sing the praises of trees but they all die one by one. People who are being bullied by their neighbors (to remove a tree) have a good argument: ‘That tree is worth money to me’,” Turnbull said.
Less storm water/sewer system infrastructure is needed in a heavily treed city, she said, and houses stay cooler in summer.