[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Waterland Blog, nor its staff:]
The Port of Seattle proposes to commercially develop an estimated 107 acres of mostly tree-covered land near Sea-Tac Airport. Thirty-one of these acres are inside North SeaTac Park on land now covered by mature forest interwoven with mountain bike, running, and walking trails used by community members throughout the area. (1)
We ask readers to join us in signing the Community Forest Consensus at KCTreeEquity.org to demand that Port Commissioners withdraw these expansion plans and replace them with a comprehensive plan to properly manage and restore ecosystems in their jurisdiction. (2)
The Port’s deforestation proposals would take us in the opposite direction of a recent health department recommendation: to reduce human exposure to deadly airport pollution by expanding tree canopy and green space within 10 miles of SeaTac Airport. (3)
It’s especially unjust to site these proposals in SeaTac, where one of the most racially and economically diverse communities in the county bears among the highest impacts from environmental health disparities (4) and has among the lowest percentage of tree canopy. (5)
Trees are critical public health infrastructure. In addition to protecting us from pollution, they reduce the heat, dust, flooding, and drought of climate change while shading waterways that shelter salmon and provide habitat for wildlife. Research shows that trees are associated with improved mental health, lower crime rates and longer lives. They increase property values, reduce heating and cooling costs, and are good for retail business. (6-9)
As Defenders of North SeaTac Park, we are calling upon the Port to drop their unjust proposals and honor their commitments to the community:
- Their commitment as a member of the King County–Cities Climate Collaboration to reduce sprawl and protect forests. (10)
- The commitment in the Port’s own vision and equity statement to advance racial equity and share “information and decision-making power with the people who are impacted by (its) work.” (11)
- The historical legacy of North SeaTac Park, which the Port created to compensate local residents for cumulative airport impacts. (12)
Please join the Defenders and nearly 1,600 other community members, including elected officials, organizations, and businesses, in signing our local Community Forest Consensus which calls for:
Elected officials have begun to take action. The City of SeaTac is exploring whether it can acquire all or part of the park in order to protect it, and discussions on this question are ongoing between SeaTac and Port officials. (13,14) Burien’s City Council has put the issue of the park on its future agendas. (15) These are promising developments. But they don’t address the proposed destruction of dozens of acres of trees outside the park. And they require strong and continuing public input, including your signature on the Consensus, to bring them to life.
By signing the Consensus, we together envision a future with a protected and restored North SeaTac Park, along with its interconnected forest in the surrounding community. We envision a future in which all residents enjoy healthy, sheltering trees in neighborhoods surrounded by mature forest cover. Our signatures signify that all of us, especially our children, deserve clean air and the chance to learn, play, and grow in a quality physical environment.
Defenders of North SeaTac Park
For end notes and a Spanish language version of this letter: https://KCTreeEquity.org/lte
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