A partnership created by King County has surpassed the goal of planting one million trees throughout the region nearly a year ahead of schedule, achieving a milestone set by Executive Dow Constantine in the 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan.
Executive Constantine and partners celebrated the 1 Million Trees initiative at King County’s White Center Heights Park, where they planted the ceremonial first tree in 2016.
Constantine today thanked the partners, volunteers, and employees who surpassed the goal to plant one million trees throughout the region nearly a year ahead of schedule, achieving a major milestone for the county’s Strategic Climate Action Plan.
Executive Constantine in August will send the King County Council his proposal for the 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan, which will include a 3 Million Trees initiative that will maintain the accelerated pace for tree planting, protect forests and natural areas before they are lost forever, and prepare native forests for the impacts of climate change.
“In King County, we don’t just set ambitious goals to confront climate change – we create strong partnerships and mobilize volunteers to surpass them ahead of schedule,” said Executive Constantine. “We will build on this successful model to promote healthy, resilient forests for cleaner air and water, healthier habitat, and more tree cover in underserved communities.”
King County and more than 100 partners – cities, Tribes, nonprofits, youth organizations, schools, and businesses – have so far planted 1,122,535 trees in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
King County Parks’ Volunteer Program organized events throughout the region with more than 31,000 volunteers contributing to the initiative and helping restore parks. The county will offer more volunteer opportunities once it is permitted under Safe Start Washington.
The original goal – established in the 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan – was for King County to plant a half million trees with partners planting the remaining 500,000 trees by the end of 2020. King County and partners planted the one millionth tree in February, 11 months ahead of schedule.
The successful partnership created a strong foundation that will help advance the 30 Year Forest Plan, a shared vision developed by King County and partners to guide forest management to achieve multiple benefits in the coming decades.
Cleaner water and air, healthier habitat, more shade, less flooding
The initiative has produced immediate and lasting benefits, including cleaner air and water, reduced flood risks, cooler salmon-bearing streams, more tree canopy in neighborhoods, and healthier forests and public greenspaces.
The roots of healthy trees stabilize slopes and prevent erosion while forests and natural land absorb rainfall, reducing the flow into streams and preventing floods. Pacific Northwest forests are among the best in the world at storing carbon because native tress have long, productive lifespans.
Successful tree planting initiatives require more than simply putting a large number of trees in soil. That is why King County and its partners also take action to ensure that the newly planted trees have the water, mulch, and space they need to mature.