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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.