Happy anniversary, 3 Million Trees!

Not only is today Earth Day, but it also marks the 1 year anniversary of when King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the launch of 3 Million Trees. Time flies when you’re enacting change! To refresh your memory, the 3 Million Trees initiative is our five-year goal to plant, protect, and prepare a combined 3 million trees by the end of 2025 so that forests and communities of King County are ready for a rapidly warming climate. This multi-pronged strategy focuses on mitigating the effects of climate change, improving forest health and salmon habitat, and increasing tree cover in urban areas. 

A graphic that reads "3 Million Trees by 2025. The 3 integrated P's of healthy, resilient forests: Plant, protect, & prepare. A healthy forest needs a diversity of plant & animal life working together to thrive. King County, community partners, & volunteers are similarly working together as a strong ecosystem of support for 3 Million Trees." A green tree branch & the King County Parks & King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks' logos are present.

From prepping a site and planting new seedlings, to protecting beautiful, older stands of trees, 3 Million Trees relies on “3 Ps” that we’ll leverage to create integrated, lasting change. To reach 3 million trees by 2025, we’ll: 

  • Continue to plant trees (500,000 seedlings) 
  • Protect intact forest (conserving the equivalent of 2 million trees) 
  • Restore and care for forested areas and seedlings (the equivalent of 500,000 trees)  
A graphic of a child & an adult kneeling in a grassy field with plants, trees, & shrubs in the background planting a tree reads: "Planting & caring for seedlings today means forests will sequester more carbon in decades to come. We’re planting 500,000 trees across King County – mostly native conifer species – to create tomorrow’s healthy forests."

Plant: Building on the momentum of our successful 1 Million Trees partnership, King County will plant 500,000 more trees – mostly native conifer species. Planting and caring for seedlings today means the forests of tomorrow will store more carbon in decades to come. Additionally, we plan to plant trees to increase canopy cover in communities that need it most and alongside waterways where salmon run. In 2021, King County volunteers, staff, and partners planted more than 76,000 trees! 

A graphic with a Parks staff member with a clipboard walking through a forest reads: "Protecting healthy, mature forests is not only key to a balanced ecosystem, but also to preserving the forests most efficient at storing CO2. We round out our integrated strategy by protecting the invaluable mature forests of our region. "

Protect: We’re speeding up our efforts to protect mature forests as part of our Land Conservation Initiative. The forests of the Pacific Northwest are some of the best in the world at absorbing and storing CO2, which helps slow the effects of climate change. Healthy forests also contribute to clean water and healthy habitat by filtering and cooling groundwater and shading rivers and streams. In 2021, we protected more than 860 acres of forests and natural lands across King County – the equivalent of nearly 260,000 trees! King County is also protecting and increasing the amount of urban green space so that everyone can easily reach nature in their neighborhoods. These urban parks and natural areas also provide crucial shade on blazing hot summer days.  

Two people in restoration gear kneel by underbrush weeding & thinning in a graphic that reads: "Preparing existing forests for increasingly hotter summers is key. Along with partners & volunteers, we’re thinning dead & dying trees, weeding, addressing pests & disease, & diversifying formerly monoculture forests."

Prepare: With the help of our partner organizations and volunteers, King County is strengthening and preparing forests by removing weeds that compete with seedlings for resources, thinning dead and dying trees, addressing pests and disease, and diversifying homogenous forests formerly used for timber harvesting. Through the care of these forests and newly planted seedlings, we ensure that they’ll be strengthened and prepared for the warmer, drier summers in our region’s future. In 2021, we monitored and cared for seedlings planted as part of our 1 Million Trees initiative and restored nearly 90 acres of forests.  

A silver haired man kneels in waterproof clothes in a field transplanting a young coniferous tree.

You can help! 3 Million Trees is a comprehensive approach to promote healthy, resilient forests and communities, but we can’t do it alone. Our integrated approach is what has gotten us this far, and is what will continue to strengthen the forests of our region. Visit our King County Parks volunteer portal and discover opportunities to plant, prepare, and protect our forests. 

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