Exit133 is about Tacoma

Hilltop Diversitree Brings Ambiance and Environmental Enhancements

New blooming tree boulevards now greet visitors and residents to the Hilltop Business District. Yet, a part of the more than 240-tree Hilltop Diversitree project is another kind of beauty - the environmental benefits are lovely too.  

Trees reduce rain runoff and erosion by about 7 percent. Their leaves, branches and needles catch rain before it reaches the ground, allowing it to drip, slow down, and evaporate. To put the project’s stormwater efforts into perspective:

  • In order to make room for the trees, the City has “depaved” a space around the Safeway grocery store equivalent in size to an Olympic-sized swimming pool .
  • At maturity, these new trees will benefit downstream waterways by retaining enough rain water to fill that Olympic-sized swimming pool every two years. 

Tree planting in the ”depaved” areas around Safeway began this week with verities chosen to demonstrate a range of trees appropriate for planting under power lines.  

“An important part of this project is demonstrating diversity,” says Urban Forester Ramie Pierce, who notes that no individual tree species or genus makes up more than six percent of the tree types being planted. “Diversity is insurance for our urban forests to protect against, for example, an insect that has a tree it really likes. Rather than losing all of our trees we’d only loose that one type.” 

The project was made possible by a $100,000 anonymous donation to the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and an additional Donald R. and Mary E. Williams Horticulture Fund of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation donation of $30,000 for three years of project maintenance. Funding is also being provided by USDA Forest Service and Washington State Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program.

A final phase of tree planting continues later this summer in coordination with a utility project that will create new South 11th Street tree medians.  
In 2009, the Hilltop Neighborhood Business District’s percentage of tree canopy stood at about 5 percent. The Diversitree project is estimated to increase that coverage to 12 percent, closing in on the 15 percent neighborhood business district goal outlined in the City Comprehensive Plan. 

The Tacoma’s Environmental Services Department promotes and increases Tacoma’s tree cover while enhancing right-of-ways to reduce surface water pollution and protect Puget Sound. Visit the City’s web site to learn more about Tacoma’s Hilltop Diversitree at cityoftacoma.org/diversitree.


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