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Javi Serrano, 6, and his family helped spread the word about free street trees.
This fall, 100 new street trees are growing in Mountlake Terrace.
The project was funded through a $29,500 grant. Funds for this project were provided by the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, administered through the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program. The grant paid for the trees, watering bags, and a portion of the tree planting labor. To fulfill the required 100% grant match, the City of Mountlake Terrace contributed significant staff time to develop and administer the program, and covered the remainder of planting costs.
The trees were planted in late October and early November by the Snohomish Conservation District through a paid agreement with the city.
“The benefits of trees should be available to everyone,” said Laura Reed, the stormwater program manager who is leading the grant and project. “We made a special effort to reach out to folks who might not see a social media post, read an online article, or find the program on the city website.”
“I am especially grateful to community volunteers Sophie Serrano and Audrey Meyer, who distributed fliers door-to-door in neighborhoods near I-5 and Highway 99,” Reed said.
Over 150 residents applied for free trees.
“I wish I could have given them to everyone who applied, but planting trees in places that are too close to utilities or sidewalks can create future problems for property owners as the trees grow,” Reed said. “Not every spot is a good place for a street tree, unfortunately.”
All residents who had enough utility- and pavement-free space on their street edge received a tree. Some received more than one; the final number of participants was 72. Each agreed to water their new tree during the first two summers. (In the Pacific Northwest, new street trees most frequently die from not enough watering.)
“I wanted to help spread the word, so that as many trees were planted as possible,” Serrano said. “My family worked it into our routine, distributing fliers on walks and bike rides a few times a week. We put up signs and chatted with neighbors. It was a great way to stay active and show my son some community spirit.”
A previous DNR grant paid for an online map showing potential street tree planting areas (away from utilities, sidewalks and pavement). The tree options were: Sugar Maple, Scarlet Oak, Littleleaf Linden, Japanese Zelkova, Kentucky Yellowood, Persian Ironwood, Japanese Snowbell, Paperbark Maple, American Hornbeam, and Eastern Redbud. These species were selected because they are drought-tolerant, have non-aggressive roots, are disease/insect resistant, provide shade, and have low risk of fruit or nut drop (trip hazards on sidewalks).
Increased tree canopy provides multiple benefits for neighborhoods, including increased property values, air pollutant removal from heavy traffic, cooler streets, reduced stormwater runoff, and decreased stress. According to a recent Mountlake Terrace online survey, residents feel strongly that trees are important to the character of the community, and they would prefer more street trees and additional wooded areas for open spaces and parks.
Serrano was among the first to sign up.
“I liked that there were a variety of trees to choose from, not only different kinds of foliage and blossoms, but trees for homes with less space or limited light,” she said. “Street trees are so important in Mountlake Terrace. It’s convenient to be close to the highway, but because we are so close, we get pollutants from the traffic. Trees are an easy way to make the air cleaner.”For more information, contact Laura Reed, Stormwater Program Manager, at 425-744-6226, firstname.lastname@example.org.