Bonney Lake plan calls for thousands of new trees

In the next decade or two, about 3,000 more trees could dot the Bonney Lake landscap, according to a plan discussed at a March 3 City Council workshop.

By Dannie Oliveaux

The Courier Herald

In the next decade or two, about 3,000 more trees could dot the Bonney Lake landscap, according to a plan discussed at a March 3 City Council workshop.

According to Community Service Director Gary Leaf, about $1 million could be spent for the Street Tree Master Plan.

Lead addressed the council and outlined the plan’s purposes and goals.

“To implement this entire plan would cost the city a little more than $1 million over a period of 10 to 20 years,” Leaf said. “It depends on how fast the city wants to implement it.”

Leaf said the million-dollar estimate includes cost of the trees, labor and three years of maintenance to establish the trees.

He said once the trees are planted and established, it could cost the city about $30,000 a year for labor and maintenance.

“It could be a part-time job for someone,” he added.

Leaf said the Street Tree Master Plan is a component of the Community Forestry Program established in 2005. The program calls for a tree ordinance, contracted arborist, inventory of city-owned trees and other professional services.

Leaf said the plan is based on the inventory compiled by Arbor Pro and is intended to service as bridge for the Community Forestry Program and the city’s plans for downtown.

He said it only applies to city-owned properties and right-of-ways. An amendment would have to be approved by the city for private property.

According to the plan, the Community Character Element in the city’s Comprehensive Plan places an importance on trees to help Bonney Lake retain its “small town feel.”

The stated goals of the tree plan are to enhance north-south connections (Locust, 192nd and 198th avenues), help calm selected traffic areas (schools, parks and Sky Island Drive) and support the development of SubArea and Master Plans (downtown and Eastown).

Leaf said a developer has already planted trees along Sky Island Drive.

He said the area along 198th Avenue to Cascadia may be difficult because it winds in and out of the city limits.

Leaf said the plan places an emphasis on “selecting the right tree for the right place.” A group, which included an arborist, made the recommendations that include small, medium and large trees.

Councilman Dave King asked if most of the trees would be native species.

Leaf said the state’s native trees are evergreens and they could work along state Route 410 along Eastown, but not to close to the roadway because of their root system. He said the goal is to line the side of the highway, but not the medians, with Evergreens.

He said trees of different colors could be used in the plan and all trees need to be “utility line friendly.”

“Certain trees grow really fast and get in the way of power and phone lines,” Leaf said.

According to research, trees along the roadway have a calming effect and can slow down motorists. “It’s hard for motorists to gage how fast they’re driving without trees,” Leaf added. “They are not just for beautification, but traffic calming.”

Leaf said the Street Tree Master Plan was designed by Melissa Whitfield, a former city employee who was retained as a consultant for the project. The plan cost $10,000, with one-third of the total paid by a Department of Natural Resources grant.

City Administrator Don Morrison said the plan is more of an “operational plan” to guide the city.

Leaf said the plan has been available to the public through the city’s Web site.

Reach Dannie Oliveaux at doliveaux@courierherald.com or 360-820-8209.

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