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King County 30-Year Forest Plan

King County 30-Year Forest Plan

Forests For Our Future

One of the signature elements of our region is our vibrant forests.

In rural and urban communities throughout King County, forests store carbon and provide climate benefits, improve water and air quality, enhance habitat for salmon and other wildlife, reduce polluted stormwater runoff in our communities and waterways, offer recreational opportunities, and provide cool shade for streams and sidewalks.

Tree planting at Finn Hill park

Download the 30-Year Forest Plan

Download the Summary

In order to ensure that county forests continue to provide these benefits, we worked with partners to develop a plan to expand and enhance forest cover over the next three decades. We know that protecting and managing our forests and making sure they are resilient under a changing climate will take collaborative work. So, we developed the Forest Plan with input from King County staff, Tribes, nonprofits, municipalities, forestland owners and managers, and community members. The result is a shared countywide vision, including priorities and goals associated with rural and urban forest cover and forest health as well as strategies for achieving that vision over the next 30 years.

We summarized the input we heard during our outreach process and identified seven priority areas relating to the value and benefits of forests. Within each priority area, we identified goals that relate to forests and tree cover, including specific goals related to cultural resources and equity. The Forest Plan is intended to support maintaining and providing access to cultural resources in King County forests, honoring treaty-use rights, and incorporating Tribal input into management.

The identified priorities and goals include:

Climate change icon


Contribute to climate change mitigation by increasing carbon sequestration and storage in King County forests and increase resilience and preparedness for climate change effects on forests.

  1. Increase the amount of carbon stored in forests in King County to the greatest extent practicable while protecting biodiversity and improving forest health.
  2. Increase the resilience of existing forests and newly planted trees to the effects of climate change.
  3. Improve the preparedness of communities near forests for potential increase in fire risk caused by climate change.
  4. Equity and cultural resources: Maintain western redcedar, which may be susceptible to drought stress associated with climate change, and other species of cultural significance that provide cultural resources and values to area Tribes.
Forest health icon

Forest health

Improve and restore forest health, including increasing resilience to disease, invasive species, drought, and climate change; sustaining biodiversity, improving wildlife habitat, and restoring connectivity; and maintaining or improving ecological functions.

  1. Increase the area of healthy and resilient forestland.
  2. Increase  connectivity of protected forestland to improve wildlife  habitat.
  3. Equity and cultural resources: Create a broader  public understanding of pre-settlement forest stewardship by the Coast Salish  peoples and the resulting forest conditions as a baseline for healthy, complex,  and biodiverse forests; improve forest conditions that support the ability of  Tribes to exercise treaty rights and cultural practices; improve forest  health in forests close to underserved communities.
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Urban  forest canopy

Increase tree canopy in urban areas, with a focus on areas with the lowest canopy cover, and maintain and improve the health of existing urban forests.

  1. Maintain  and increase existing tree canopy in urban areas, prioritizing areas with low  canopy cover.
  2. Maintain urban trees and improve urban forest  health.
  3. Equity and cultural resources: Increase tree canopy above current baseline in urban unincorporated areas with low canopy cover and support urban forest projects as a foundation for youth training to develop tomorrow’s forestry leaders.
Human health icon

Human health

Prioritize tree canopy improvements and increased access to forested spaces to improve human health outcomes and advance health equity.

  1. Increase tree canopy with improvements focused in geographies and communities with residential areas subject to high levels of summer heat and/or pollution or other human health disparities.
  2. Improve access to forested spaces, prioritizing communities where the needs are greatest, and support outdoor recreation opportunities that can provide physical and mental health benefits.
  3. Equity and cultural resources: Increase use, engagement, and sense of belonging in forested parks where access to or use of parks and green space is below the regional average.
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Salmon  habitat

Increase and improve forest cover and condition in areas where it can enhance salmon habitat.

  1. Protect, increase, and improve the extent and health of riparian forests.
  2. Protect, increase, and improve the extent and forest health in the headwaters of salmon streams to improve ecological function and protect water quality and quantity.
  3. Equity and cultural resources: Align salmon habitat restoration with Tribal priorities and use culturally important plant species in salmon habitat restoration.
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Water quality and quantity

Maintain and expand forest canopy where it provides the most benefit for improving water quality and quantity, reducing stormwater runoff, and reducing flooding.

  1. Maintain and expand forest cover in areas identified as having poor water quality or high pollutant loads to streams and rivers, where forest cover improvement can provide benefits.
  2. Maintain and expand forest cover to improve water quantity conditions in areas identified as having high potential to mitigate flooding or where protecting groundwater is a priority.
  3. Equity and cultural resources: Integrate equity considerations into prioritization of stormwater projects involving forest cover.
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Sustainable timber

Support an ecologically sustainable and economically viable timber industry that promotes maintenance of ecological functions in working forests and local economic development.

  1. Maintain healthy working forests and prevent forest fragmentation and the conversion of working forests to non-forested uses.
  2. Increase the use of forestry practices that improve ecological functions (such as carbon sequestration, fish and wildlife habitat, and hydrologic cycling) in working forests.
  3. Improve access to and condition of infrastructure and markets that support sustainable forestry practices.
  4. Equity and cultural resources: Increase equity in the timber industry and diversity of forestry professionals, in particular those trained in ecological forest management practices and the cultural importance of forests.

Implementation will begin in the first year of the plan with work on a set of pilot projects developed for each of the priority areas and with forestry actions that align with the 2020 King County Strategic Climate Action Plan.