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Who are the Defenders of Highline Forest?

The Defenders of North SeaTac Park are all who sign the Community Forest Consensus, which calls for permanently protecting all 220 acres of North SeaTac Park and for preserving and expanding the forest ecosystem within the park and in the surrounding Highline community. A healthy Highline forest is necessary to protect residents from the area’s high levels of heat, noise, and pollution, most notably SeaTac International Airport, that are shortening lifespans and are linked with a wide range of health problems, including higher rates of premature births and low birthweights as well as learning problems in children.

What is the Highline Forest?

The Highline forest is a portion of the Puget Sound region’s interconnected forest ecosystem that exists on both public and private lands within and bordering the communities along “The Highline,” now known as Des Moines Memorial Drive. The Highline area includes Burien, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and portions of Des Moines, Kent, and Tukwila, and unincorporated King County.

Our Vision

Preservation, restoration, and comprehensive stewardship of the forest ecosystem within the Highline community.

Our Mission

Through research, education and organizing, build community power to achieve:

  1. Permanent preservation of North SeaTac Park;

  2. Reversal of the ongoing crisis of deforestation and decline in the health of the Highline forest, especially near the airport, where pollution levels and health impacts are high and tree canopy is low;

  3. The allocation of resources for implementation of green space and tree preservation plans already adopted by King County, the Port of Seattle, and other governments, and honoring the extensive community input gathered to create these plans.

Our Values

We believe that:

  • All in our community have a right to the lifegiving benefits that adequate tree canopy provides, including cleaner air and cooler temperatures;

  • All in our community, including governments, businesses, individual property owners, and the general public, have the opportunity and the responsibility to protect the health, integrity and beauty of the ecosystem in which we live;

  • Protecting and restoring the Highline forest, especially in neighborhoods where tree canopy is low, is a matter of public health, environmental, and racial justice;

  • Governments on all levels must align their policies and actions with commitments they have made to slow climate change and mitigate its impact on people and the environment. This includes the responsibility to invest in preserving and expanding healthy urban forest;

  • The Highline forest advocacy movement must foster participation and leadership that reflects the diversity of the airport-impacted community;

  • We honor and acknowledge that the Highline forest exists on the ancestral lands and waters of Coast Salish tribal peoples who have - since time immemorial - protected and been in relationship with the Salish Sea and these precious lands we know as Highline and our home. We acknowledge our region’s tribal citizens, their ancestors and descendants, and we honor their invaluable contributions to this community’s identity, economy, history, culture, ecological health, and future.

Steering Committee

Derek Beauchemin. Owner and Operator, Habitat Restoration Specialists, LLC, volunteer forest steward in N. SeaTac Park, 2020 derekb@habitatrestoration.com.co

Rob Bent, Biologist, pharma executive, dedicated to the Duwamish River watershed and surrounding lands

Beth Brunton, Teacher, Co-Chair of South Seattle Climate Action Network; Steering committee member of Pass the Federal Green New Deal Coalition of Washington admin@southseattleclimate.org

Rick Harwood Member and past president of the Rotary Club of SeaTac-Tukwila. High school Principal at Global Connections HS in the Highline School District from 2005 to 2015. Actively involved in the Defenders of North SeaTac Park since Fall 2022.

Dr. Sandra L. Hunt, Educator, Activist, Local Union Leader huntsl@live.com

Stephen Lamphear, MPA Founder and  founding President of the Board of Highline Botanical Garden; Burien City Council (1998-2005); Chair, Board of Supervisors, King Conservation District (1996-1998) stephenlamphear@gmail.com

Noemie Maxwell Volunteer forest steward in North SeaTac Park, 2021-2023, librarian, member of People for Climate Action (Burien) and South Seattle Climate Action Network noemie_maxwell@yahoo.com

Barbara McMichael Longtime South King County resident; former organizer of Highline Garden Tour; administrator of SoCoCulture's Engaging Trees Initiative BarbaraLMcM@gmail.com

Anne Miller  Educator, activist and mother. Anne is a founding member of the South Seattle Climate Action Network, Mt Baker Meaningful Movies and the Westside Environmental Justice Group.

Andrea O’Ferrall, Former elementary school teacher working as full-time climate activist: writing, educating, and protesting with a sense of urgency

Annie Phillips, Climate activist, hiker, grandma, retired education-outreach specialist at WA State Dept of Ecology.

Where is North SeaTac Park?

North SeaTac Park and its community are at the geographic center of a ten-mile zone surrounding SeaTac International Airport where Public Health Seattle-King County recommends increasing tree canopy and green space coverage in order to protect residents from airport-generated pollution that shortens lives and disproportionately impacts health. Click HERE for maps and more info.

What Trees are at Risk?

Multiple proposals and “site specific considerations” within the Port of Seattle’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) and Real Estate Strategic Plan (RESP) would commercially develop an estimated 112 acres of mostly tree-covered land near the airport, 31.5 of those acres within North SeaTac Park. Port officials have stated that the agency has no plans to develop within the park. However, the park is zoned for commercial aviation use and recommendations for 340,000 square feet of “aviation supportive use” inside the park appear in the Port’s Real Estate Strategic Plan, published in August, 2021. Click HERE for maps and more info.

What is Tree Equity?

Trees are critical infrastructure that provide benefits everyone should have. They clean and cool the air, reduce flooding, lower energy costs, and are associated with reduced crime, improved mental health, and local economic vitality. Tree equity would mean that all people would equally benefit from the presence of trees in their neighborhoods. But, in the words of American Forests:  “A map of tree cover is too often a map of income and race — especially in cities. That’s because trees are often sparse in socioeconomically disadvantaged urban neighborhoods and some neighborhoods of color. The inequitable distribution of trees exacerbates social inequities.”  A Factsheet on Tree Equity within two miles of SeaTac Airport is available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.

Media Coverage

Click HERE



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