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Community Forest Consensus

Calling for emergency action and long term solutions by our elected officials to defend the health of people in the North SeaTac Park community and within ten miles of SeaTac International Airport as well as the stability of our climate by protecting this community’s guardian forests, waterways, parklands, and trees

January 2022 Discussion Draft

In order to defend the people in the community surrounding North SeaTac Park, and all who live within the ten-mile community surrounding this airport, from the negative health and climate impacts posed by near-term plans for extensive deforestation and green space destruction by the Port of Seattle, the current owner and assigned steward of North SeaTac Park,

We call for:

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  1. An immediate moratorium on tree removal and green space destruction on public lands by the Port of Seattle within 2 miles of SeaTac International Airport where residents experience high levels of environmental health disparities as measured by the Washington State Department of Health, (1) and where Public Health - Seattle & King County (a) finds that lifespans are between 3.5 and 5 years shorter than in the balance of the county; (b) finds that residents here and within ten miles of the airport experience significantly higher rates of premature births, low birthweights, childhood learning problems, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts; and (c) recommends as mitigation for these negative health outcomes an increase in the area’s coniferous tree canopy in order to reduce human exposures to airport-related pollutants. (2)

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    This moratorium must go into effect immediately in order to prevent the Port of Seattle from implementing its current near-term plans for ecological destruction, and must continue, with exceptions only for public safety, until the CARE Plan for the Greater North SeaTac Park Community, as outlined below, or a plan with comparable protections for our community’s health and our climate stabililzing urban forest, is in place.

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  2. Legally-binding securement of North SeaTac Park as a Park in Perpetuity with a permanent prohibition, within the park, to commercial development and tree removal, such securement to be effected by changes in zoning and law, by conservation easement, by transfer to an appropriate governmental entity under terms that would protect it as a park for the people, or by a combination of these or similar means.

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    This measure is necessary to protect human health and community livability and to honor the promise made by the Port, at the time it removed thousands of residents and their homes and schools and businesses from this land through eminent domain, to compensate the community for cumulative impacts of the airport by maintaining, as a park, the 200+ acres of land that is now North SeaTac Park. (3)

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  3. A plan for Comprehensive Action to Restore the Ecology of North SeaTac Park and Community (CARE Plan), by the Port of Seattle and other partnering jurisdictions, that is fully funded and professionally managed, in order to restore and maintain for future generations the natural areas within and surrounding North SeaTac Park, including forests and waterways, with emphasis on Tub Lake, which may be the last living true bog in the Seattle area.

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    The plan must include control of invasive weeds and preparation for existing and expected climate impacts such as drought, high heat, and pests.

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    It must, in a manner and at a scale recommended by experts in urban forestry and public health, implement the recommendation made by Public Health - Seattle & King County to increase the number of coniferous trees near SeaTac Airport to reduce residents’ exposure to toxics from airport operations. (2)

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    It must protect and retain existing trees, as large-diameter trees can capture more toxic particulates, store “disproportionally massive amounts of carbon,” (3) and “fulfill a variety of unique ecological roles such as increasing drought-tolerance, reducing flooding from intense precipitation events, altering fire behavior, redistributing soil water, and acting as focal centers of mycorrhizal communication and resource sharing networks. (4)

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    It should set a goal of restoring urban tree canopy coverage in this community from its current low averages, for example, of 21% in SeaTac (25% not including the airport), 30% in Burien, and 29% in Des Moines, to 40% or more, as recommended by Forterra NW in three studies that it prepared for the Port of Seattle Airport Community Ecology Fund (5-7)

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    And it must include concrete actions to limit, as reasonably possible, development activities of the Port of Seattle within ten miles of the airport to its existing developed footprint. The Port controls sprawling multi-acre, single-level parking lots as well as other already-paved and underutilized properties, where redevelopment with higher density approaches are possible, feasible, and ecologically sound.

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.Join the Defenders of North SeaTac Park Community Forest Consensus as an individual or an organization: HERE

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The lands and waterways within ten miles of SeaTac Airport and beyond are un-ceded territory of first nation Tribes, past and present, who have stewarded greenspaces here and in this region since time immemorial, and who continue this work today as co-managers of the natural resources of this area. We recognize and honor them and their connection with this land.

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*This statement is expected to be in discussion draft form through mid January, 2022. To send comments or sign up for updates/notifications, write info@KCTreeEquity.org*

info@KCTreeEquity.org

© 2022

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