People love living in Lacey for its “northwest look and feel.” As our community and the South Sound region continue to grow, maintaining that character is increasingly challenging. In the past, when quarter-acre lots were the norm, builders were able to work around and save trees as homes were built. Now, with state growth management laws encouraging smaller residential lots and higher densities to avoid sprawl, urban tree protection can be difficult.
Following a number of public hearings and workshops to address this issue, the City of Lacey adopted a strengthened Urban Forest Management Plan that enacts new strategies for protecting our urban forest resources. The plan recognizes the many environmental, economic and quality-of-life benefits trees bring to the urban environment, with new regulations including:
Prior to approval of any new residential or commercial development, the City Arborist will be required to evaluate tree resources on a project site and identify trees that will be protected in designated tree tracts and open space areas, as well as trees on individual lots that can be safely retained.
Establishment of Tree Tracts
All new residential and commercial developments will be required to set aside at least 5 percent of the project site as a protected tree tract. The tract must be located to incorporate as many existing healthy trees as possible.
Individual lots that have been cleared to build a home must be re-planted with new trees after the residence has been constructed. While the plan encourages tree protection during construction, many new lots are too small to safely maintain existing trees when homes are being built. Such lots must now be re-planted at a ratio of 4 trees per each 5,000 square feet of total lot area. Planted species must meet characteristics that will promote survivability and safety over the long term.Tree Removal
Homeowners will be permitted to remove diseased and hazardous trees following a site visit by the City’s Arborist, who will provide maintenance and removal recommendations at no charge to the homeowner. In addition—and only after obtaining an Exemption Certificate from the planning department—a lot owner can remove up to 5 trees during a three-year period provided the required minimum ratio of 4 trees per each 5,000 square feet of total lot area are left on the site or are re-planted.
The goals and policies outlined in the City of Lacey Urban Forest Management Plan, as well other forest practices requirements within the City of Lacey, have been adopted and codified by the City of Lacey Tree and Vegetation Protection and Preservation Ordinance (Lacey Municipal Code Title 14.32). The ordinance is designed to:
Preserve and enhance the City's physical and aesthetic character by preventing indiscriminate removal and destruction of trees and ground cover without preventing the reasonable development of land;
Promote building and site planning practices that are consistent with the City's natural topographical, soils and vegetative features; and
Ensure prompt restoration, replanting and effective erosion control of property after land clearing.
Trees and other types of vegetation perform a number of critical functions within the community. Trees and vegetation:
Minimize surface water and ground water runoff;
Prevent erosion and reduce the risk of slides;
Assist in noise abatement and protection from wind;
Reduce siltation and water pollution; and
Provide wildlife habitat.
Download the Urban Forest Management Plan »
For information on application of tree preservation and protection practices, visit the Community Development department's Tree Resource