Photo by Jessica Keller: Queen Anne Community Council Parks Committee Chairman Don Harper points out how a Chinese Chestnut tree on Bigelow Avenue North in Queen Anne is essentially dead and structurally compromised. That tree and 23 others situated on Queen Anne Boulevard are set to be removed within the next three weeks.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Queen Anne Community Council Parks Committee Chairman Don Harper points out how a Chinese Chestnut tree on Bigelow Avenue North in Queen Anne is essentially dead and structurally compromised. That tree and 23 others situated on Queen Anne Boulevard are set to be removed within the next three weeks.
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People traveling Queen Anne Boulevard can expect to see a number of trees being removed after city staff identified them as diseased or dead.

Seattle Parks and Recreation crews and different contractors will remove 24 trees and grind down the stumps along the boulevard within the next three weeks, Nicholas Johnson, Seattle Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry certified arborist, said in an email, Friday.  The project is expected to take one month.

According to a report Johnson submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Board, a city arborist identified the trees that need to be removed after an inspection on the on the boulevard. In most cases, the trees are structurally compromised and dying or are, in some cases, already dead. None of the trees could be saved.

“The trees we have identified are all a creating a hazard for park users or adjacent property owners,” Johnson wrote in his report.

The trees to be removed on Queen Anne Boulevard include birches to Chinese chestnuts to maples. Many of the trees are mature and were susceptible to environmental stresses, including climate change, which has produced repeated drought and warmer temperatures.

“These conditions are extremely taxing for trees,” Johnson wrote in his report. “Once trees have been subject to environmental stresses, they become more susceptible to decay and insect attack. Due to the age of the trees and the environmental stressors being put on them, it is not surprising to see large numbers of trees decline on the boulevard.”

According to the report, four maple trees were identified as having a fungus whose spores grow under the bark and cause death. Those spores are “allergenic” and can cause respiratory problems, including pneumonitis, in humans.

“The issues and immediacy of the tree removals along Queen Anne Boulevard are not isolated to this one site,” Johnson reported. “I have observed a staggering number of trees declining rapidly within the last few years. Some of the pathogenic issues along this boulevard have only begun to develop. I anticipate many moire trees dying within the coming years.”

Including removal, the entire project is expected to cost $89,000.  The city intends to plant new trees in the future.

According to Johnson’s email, Seattle Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry staff are currently considering tree replacement recommendations, which will be reviewed by the Seattle Landmarks Board. Those trees are scheduled to be planted within the next 14 months.

In his report, Johnson warned, the city has to avoid planting trees that will face the same problems as those being removed.

“To be successful in maintaining a tree canopy, we need to be intentional about how we plan for the future,” he said in his report. “We need greater diversity in tree age and species to limit the risk of massive tree casualty we are currently exposed to.”

After the new trees are planted, they will be watered during an establishment period.

Don Harper, Queen Anne Community Council Parks Committee Chairman, said he is worried that after the trees are planted they will either mysteriously disappear or will die from neglect.

He said the city has a strong tree ordinance, but it does little to protect trees in Seattle.

There’s no teeth,” he said. “There’s no bite in the language. The only thing that preserves these trees is that they are on parks property.”