City View, Nothing New

Over 150 trees belonging to the City of Seattle (aka ‘all of us’) and under the stewardship of the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department, were recently cut down, illegally. As the investigation unfolded, it was discovered that the incident had been reported to City and Parks department officials almost two months before the story broke on the front page of the Seattle Times.

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As people found out about this story, they were understandably outraged. Outraged at why such destruction took so long to be reported. And as the story unfolded, outraged at what appeared to be the entitlement of some homeowners who felt their ‘city view’ was of more importance than this green space, a public resource benefiting all – by providing tree canopy, slope stabilization,  improved air and water quality, not to mention homes to the birds and other creatures living there.

The new growth on the hillside suggests this is not the first time trees have been cut in quest of the ‘city view’.

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New shoots that have emerged, where previous cuts have been made in the past. This is the tell-tale sign of trees trying to regenerate, and replace the life that existed before.
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Young deciduous saplings grow among stumps farther down the “view” hillside. There are no evergreens, which would have been a sign of attempts to stabilize and naturalize the razed slope.

Scenic views of the Cascades & Olympics, of Mt. Rainier, of Puget Sound, are undoubtedly spectacular. But so are trees – with their elegant branch structure, changing foliage, and the calming sounds as leaves rustle in the wind.  Trees also mitigate the effects of climate change; they provide shade, improve air quality, filter polluted waters, and offset our needs for energy. I wonder what would happen if a public utility, such as a water treatment facility  were on this property and people tried to disassemble it because it blocked their view?

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Looking east. Click on picture twice to view original.

We need to redefine the term view to include trees, as we will be ever more dependent on them in the future. Some day, tree views may be the highest draw for prospective home buyers, and instead of reading about ‘water and mountain view property’ in real estate ads, we might be reading ‘this property has many mature, majestic trees.’

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All photos © Seattle Nature Alliance

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