Ivy Infestation of Trees – Who is taking care of this?

While millions of dollars are being spent by the Mayor McGinn and by the City Council promoting and undertaking projects that predominately benefit business interests, the city’s streets, common areas, and infrastructure have become a scandal and are in a state of shambles.   

This shameful neglect of the public’s assets in Seattle by the electeds and their administrations is a crime.  Instead of diverting tax dollars to vanity projects, the ethical thing they should be doing is  improving and maintaining the fundamental physical condition of the city – that is what should be their priority.

Instead we know how this all works.  Neglect, then the usual cry by the Council and Mayor for levy money to take care of the backlog of maintenance and repair.  Why do we tolerate this continual disregard by City Hall for the public’s interests, property, and well being?

(the photos in the slideshow are from February 2009, the infestation has only gotten worse since then.  This time of year with all the leaves off of the trees to see how bad this has gotten)

Location map for the slideshow pictures

Excerpt from the City’s Urban Forest Plan

Seattle’s First Comprehensive Urban Forest Plan

While having a positive impact, these efforts have not been enough to preserve Seattle’s urban forest. A resource of this magnitude requires careful management to ensure its preservation, restoration, and enhancement. For that reason, the Urban Forest Management Plan has been developed as a roadmap for the long-term management of Seattle’s trees.

Managing trees in a city differs from managing forests in natural settings.  Urban forest management goals such as increasing tree canopy, improving public safety, and providing native habitat and recreational and educational opportunities must be balanced with other goals such as accommodating growth and facilitating transportation. The Urban Forest Management Plan is the City of Seattle’s plan to integrate management of the many issues and opportunities posed by Seattle’s tree resource.

Additionally, all natural systems change over time. If we want these changes to enhance the urban forest, they must be actively managed. Nationally-based studies repeatedly support the fact that the resource deteriorates when human intervention is not a proactive part of urban forest management. This decline can be seen in many of Seattle’s greenbelts where ivy is strangling trees and preventing native species from growing because historically these areas were considered ‘natural’ and did not require maintenance.

Invasive Species:  Over the years many tree and shrub/ground cover plant species have been introduced to the Seattle region only to see them become invasive, threatening the native species. Trees like Norway maple, hawthorn, English holly and others now flourish in our forests in place of more desirable native species.

Likewise, shrubs and ground covers like English ivy, Himalayan blackberry and Japanese knotweed threaten our forest floors and riparian corridors. Not only should we avoid planting these species, we should also support programs that will remove these invasive plants over time.

Issues/Opportunities:  The Impacts of Logging Operations

In the early 1900s, nearly all the huge Douglas fir, Western red cedar, and Western hemlock in the Seattle area were milled into lumber. As a result, very few conifers were left to provide a seed source to renew the coniferous forest. Instead, deciduous native alders and big-leaf maples claimed the land and became the second-growth remnant forests (or woodlands) of today. These deciduous trees are relatively short-lived and many are already nearing the end of their lifespan. As they decline, they create openings in the forest canopy
allowing sunlight to enter. When that happens, it produces ideal conditions for non-native species like English ivy and Himalayan blackberry to invade the forest. As these invasives take over, the ecology of the forest is radically altered, and the many benefits that the forest provides are diminished. Today, over 70% of Seattle’s remnant forests have some invasive plants and about 50% are moderately to heavily invaded according to data provided by the Seattle Urban Nature Project (SUNP).

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