King County Urban Forest Preservation Program
King County, WA
Proj. Operator: King County Dept. of Natural Resources & Parks
Type: Preservation
# of Acres: TBD
Credits: In Development

The King County Land Conservation Initiative (LCI) is an effort to conserve open spaces in our rapidly growing metro area — for the myriad benefits that such open spaces provide residents of the region. The LCI is a regional collaboration between King County government, its more than three dozen cities, community leaders, business people, numerous environmental organizations, and many others. This collaboration has created a strategy to finish the job of protecting our most important remaining natural lands and urban green spaces within a generation. This strategy will put to use many existing funding sources but will also require substantial new funding in order to succeed.

King County submits this application for a program that will allow the County and its cities to utilize the Tree Preservation Protocol developed by City Forest Credits – in order to raise additional funding necessary to complete the 65,000-acre vision of the LCI. The County and its cities seek to preserve open space, trees, and forest, and earn City Forest Carbon+ Credits that can be sold to businesses and other private buyers. This gives the buyers of carbon, stormwater, and air quality credits/offsets the opportunity to invest in locally-sourced projects – with high visibility to their customers and employees, delivering economic, environmental, and social benefits to communities they care about.

Urban land is very expensive. King County, its cities, and other partners are working to assemble a number of funding sources that, together, will make it possible to achieve the vision of the LCI. Those sources include Conservation Futures Tax revenues and bonding, King County Parks Levy, state and federal grant dollars, Transfer of Development Rights funding, private philanthropy, and many others.

On a program level, it will not be possible to complete the work of the LCI without utilizing all projected sources of funding. Projected carbon revenues from this King County Urban Forest Preservation Program are not just important for preserving trees (through land and easement acquisition), but also contribute to successful completion of the LCI. Without these urban carbon revenues, the County and cities’ projected funding sources will fall short of the projected costs for conserving all the land prioritized by the LCI.

Preserving green spaces, trees, and forest canopy in and around our cities provides many environmental benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Stormwater runoff reductions and subsequent water quality improvements
  • Air quality improvement
  • Summer shade and cooling of urban neighborhoods (mitigating the “heat island” effect)
  • Fighting the loss of greenery in communities facing intense development pressure
  • Increasing communities’ access to places to gather, relieve stress, and relax, and for children to play and learn – particularly for neighborhoods that currently lack easy access to public open spaces
  • The many subsequent human health benefits, both physical and mental, such as lower blood pressure, fewer impacts from stress, reduced aggression, decreased rates of depression and anxiety, better pregnancy outcomes, and increased fitness
  • Bird and wildlife habitat, and better conditions for our salmon populations to thrive

For more information, contact the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks at charlie.governali@kingcounty.gov or 206-477-8767

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