Tree Projects

2022-23 Tree Planting Projects

Focus: tree planting in local parks and other public/semi-public spaces.
Woodstock Farm Park Enhancements
Cordata Park Tree Plantings
Julianna Park Assisted Reforestation
Squalicum Creek Park Slope Infill

Lummi Island Curry Preserve Reforestation
Galbraith/Padden Parking Reforestation

Tree Protection/Conservation

Focus: protecting mature trees in Lake Whatcom Watershed and in our few remaining urban forests.
Lake Whatcom Watershed Legacy Forests
COB Urban Tree Protection Interim Policies
Lake Overlay District Tree Regulations
Mud Bay Cliffs Advocacy
Invasive Tree Ivy Removal Teams
Tree Seedling Rescues

Please Donate Today to Support Our Tree Projects

Want to volunteer in any of these tree projects? Join us to make a lasting, visible difference in our collective well-being & future. Please sign up!


Don’t Miss Our Project News — And Get a Cool Bonus!

Whatcom County Tree Planting Guide

Subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll receive our comprehensive Whatcom Tree Planting & Care Guide!


Woodstock Farm Park Enhancements

Orchard Restoration & Conifers for a National Historic Register Site


Our work has begun at beautiful Woodstock Farm Park on the bay south of Fairhaven, which is now listed in the National Historic Register!

We’re reforesting an area on the northwest side of the site. During several work parties, we have removed invasive blackberry and planted douglas firs. We’ll plant the remaining 200+ native trees in late Fall 2022. The goal is to integrate with the adjacent forest along biologically diverse Northeast Chuckanut Bay (aka “Mud Bay”). A generous donation from the Royal Oak Chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire funds our planting work at this site.

On the other side of the park, we’re also helping to restore the Park’s heirloom apple/pear orchard. We cleared invasive blackberry and are assisting Park Steward Steve Gaber to graft/re-grow heirloom starts to infill where orchard trees have been lost over time.

Want to volunteer in a work party here? Meet other cool tree-lovers, enjoy fresh air, have fun, and contribute to a cool project and important cause? Please join our work party contact list!


Cordata Park Tree Plantings

New Park Trees Will Capture Carbon & Provide Much Needed Shade


Whatcom Million Trees Project has regularly held work parties at the City of Bellingham’s Cordata Park. Our focus is on the east edge of the park (see bright green areas on map above) along a backdrop of quaking aspens and other mature trees on adjacent properties..

We’ve been removing invasive blackberry to open up more tree planting area. In late Fall we’ll plant 350+ native trees there. In coordination with COB Parks landscape architects, it will be a “right tree, right place” mix of native conifers and deciduous trees that will capture carbon and provide much-requested shade for hot summers!

Want to volunteer in a work party here? Meet other cool tree-lovers, enjoy fresh air, have fun, and contribute to a cool project and important cause? Please join our work party contact list!


Julianna Park Assisted Reforestation

Nudging Degraded Woodlands Into Eventual Conifer Splendor


Together with City of Bellingham Parks & Recreation Department staff and our consulting arborists, we’ve identified four areas for tree planting within Julianna Park. (See blue areas on map above.)

Urban stresses and climate impacts are restricting the forest’s ability to naturally regenerate itself. Additionally, invasive Himalayan blackberry has been overtaking potential areas for trees. During 2022, we’ve been removing invasives and planning our later work. Mid-Fall, in four areas of the park we’ll begin to plant hundreds of carbon-capturing conifers, which were prevalent there a century ago. We’ll thn monitor the seedlings periodically to ensure the seedlings grow and thrive.

Want to volunteer in a work party here? Meet other cool tree-lovers, enjoy fresh air, have fun, and contribute to a cool project and important cause? Please sign up TODAY!


Squalicum Creek Park Slope Infill

Infilling Trees On The Park’s Western Slope


This Fall 2022, we’ll remove grasses and invasives and then plant 100+ trees along the western sloped edge of Squalicum Creek Park. (See yellow area in map image above.).

Landscape improvements along this slope have long been requested by neighbors. Although the quantity of new trees (and carbon capture benefits) is not huge, urban park enhancements like this provide clean air, water/flood resilience, expanded habitat, shade for hot summer days, and many other benefits

Although the quantity of new trees (and carbon capture benefits) will not be huge, urban park enhancements complement well reforestation elsewhere in Whatcom County. The trees will provide more clean air, more water/flood absorption capacity, expanded habitat for a wide range of critters, additional shade on increasingly hot summer days, and other benefits. Best yet, these trees are easily accessible and enjoyed by virtually everyone.

Want to volunteer in a work party here? Meet other cool tree-lovers, enjoy fresh air, have fun, and contribute to a cool project and important cause? Please sign up TODAY!


Lummi Island Curry Preserve Reforestation

Reforestation of a Key Island Preserve


We love our partnership with Lummi Island Heritage Trust! During March 2022, we worked together to plant 390 trees within Curry Preserve on Lummi Island. This was the first step of a much larger (over 10 acres) restoration of forest on Lummi Island over the next few years, which we will continue to support and participate in.

We look forward to a long and bountiful partnership with Lummi Island Heritage Trust! Want to help?Volunteers will be needed for future work parties events there. Please sign up TODAY to be notified when they are announced!


Galbraith/Padden Parking Reforestation

Replacement Trees Around New Parking


During 2022, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition partnered with the City of Bellingham to construct a new 184-stall parking lot on the northeast corner of Lake Padden Park. The lot provides much-needed parking to popular Galbraith Mountain bike trails. Unfortunately, removal of many mature conifer trees was required.

In response, Whatcom Million Trees Project has developed a 240-tree replacement plan for the site. (See above.) The western red cedars, douglas firs, maples, and other species we plant will over time match the surrounding mature forest of Lake Padden. For WMBC, these trees will be in addition to their required commitment to plant and manage more Galbraith Mountain conservation easement areas.

We hope to hold a family-oriented celebration to plant the entire site in December. The event will empower kids, increase awareness about trees, inform about bicycle safety, and highlight responsible forest stewardship. Please subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of this cool upcoming event!


Legacy Tree Protection in Lake Whatcom Watershed

Protecting Critical Legacy & Old-Growth Trees — For A More Sustainable Future


Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages (read: periodically logs) thousands of acres of trust lands in the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Part of the proceeds pay beneficiaries such as school districts and universities.

Although DNR must avoid impacts on a few endangered species and ensure logging roads and tributaries have buffers, clear-cuts followed by monoculture tree plantings do not grow into healthy habitats — and negatively impact Lake Whatcom’s water quality. Lake Whatcom provides drinking water to 100,000+ people and is one of the very few remaining unprotected drinking water reservoirs in the state.

Worse, DNR clear-cuts often occur in our region’s few remaining natural forests that hold ‘legacy’ trees (“almost” old-growth, thus 80-120 years old). Such mature forests are the most potent natural way to address the increasing dire impacts (floods, heat domes, etc.) of climate & biodiversity crises on our community.

Together with other nonprofits, our advocacy for these forests (especially the “Bessie” parcel which we well-publicized) during 2021-22 pushed DNR to set aside 1,400 acres of the Lake Whatcom Watershed parcels for their first-ever Carbon Initiative. Thus those healthy, bio-diverse, mature forests will be preserved — potentially for perpetuity. Yay! (This conservatively is estimated to be 280,000 trees saved in our watershed!)

WMTP is not anti-logging. Our society has a continued demand for wood. Wood products CAN be part of a more sustainable future, especially when harvested responsibly. But that is not what’s occurring, nor is our drinking water watershed appropriate for such clear-cuts.

Interesting in helping us advocate for more watershed legacy tree protection? Please contact us!


COB Urban Tree Protection Interim Policies

Urgent Interim Policies to Reduce the Loss of Large Urban Trees


In an era of unprecedented, increasing climate impacts locally, as well as significant biodiversity loss, we urgently need to prevent further loss of urban trees — especially large, mature native trees which provide multiple benefits to our community.

Unfortunately, Bellingham lags behind in this regard compared to many other Washington cities. The City’s Urban Forestry Management Plan process currently underway may eventually “catch up.” However, with 1.5 to 2+ more years remaining until its final recommendations are considered by City Council, our community simply cannot afford to wait. The longer we wait, the more irreplaceable trees we will lose. Negative impacts of this loss are increasing, reducing our quality of life. Inaction is causing significant harm to our community.

We therefore have created an interim tree protection policy recommendation document that complements and supports the City’s longer planning process, but speeds up our community’s engagement with urgent policy ACTION now — especially regarding large, mature urban trees.

We developed our recommendations by comparing other Washington municipal tree ordinances with Bellingham’s existing regulations, reviewing past public forums and City Council discussions about trees, and conversing with COB staff and community members.

We are currently reviewing our report with City policymakers and departments. Soon we will post the final report on this website. Stay tuned! Interesting in helping us advocate for more urban tree protection? Please contact us!


Lake Overlay District Tree Regulations

New Rules to Limit Excessive/Unauthorized Tree Removal — A Big WMTP Win For Our Watershed Trees!


WMTP worked for months with RE Sources and County staff to develop much-needed revisions to the County’s Lake Overlay District (LOD) ordinance. Our recommendations were unanimously approved September 27, 2022 by Whatcom County Council! The LOD are special rules that private landowners must follow within the Lake Whatcom, Samish Lake, and Lake Padden watersheds.

We focused on the regulations for tree retention or removal. Retaining mature tree canopy on private lots in the above watersheds will improve our community’s drinking water quality and climate resilience (to increasingly common torrential rains, heat domes, etc.). Retained trees will also continue to capture carbon and will preserve habitat to slow the loss of biodiversity in the watersheds.

Under the prior LOD rules, for example, a 10-acre landowner could remove up to 35% of their tree canopy (3.5 acres if 100% forested) for ANY reason. Revised, if the tree removal is NOT related to development (such as to open a view or yard area, or to remove trees too close to a home), only up to .33 acre of tree canopy can be removed from that 10-acre property. If the tree removal is related to development (such as building a home), only approximately 1.5 acre of tree canopy may be removed. Penalties for unauthorized tree removal have been stiffened, too.

These significant reductions for various size lots will likely save thousands of trees in our local watersheds over several years! The quantity per year will vary depending on the number of tree removal/ construction permits submitted to and then approved by Whatcom County’s Planning & Development Services Department, and the size and nature of each lot affected.

Our recommendations received unanimous Planning Commission approval in early July, and then unanimous Whatcom County Council approval on September 27! Now the new rules are in force! Yay!

Interesting in helping us advocate for local watershed tree protection? Please contact us!


Mud Bay Cliffs Advocacy

Pushing for a Nature-Integrated Development for Bellingham

WMTP is helping concerned neighbors push for modifications to a proposed 38-luxury-home development immediately above Mud Bay Cliffs. The project’s name is The Woods at Viewcrest.

Chuckanut Bay Shorelines, which includes Mud Bay Cliffs, is a unique, fragile natural area that most locals don’t know about!

WMTP is not automatically anti-development. We recognize some development is needed because Bellingham experiences strong growth pressures. (After all, it’s such a great place to live!) We also recognize there’s a housing shortage — and a need to avoid urban sprawl, which can noticeably increase a community’s carbon footprint.

We support development plans that…
(a) make significant efforts via site density and structure location/design to preserve existing mature trees,
(b) include the planting and long-term care of multiple replacement trees (on-site or off-site) per tree that must be removed, and
(c) support key existing habitats within the site.

In other words, a nature-integrated development. Here’s a regional example of such a planning approach.

We have reviewed every word and drawing of the development proposal and strongly feel the current plan doesn’t hit our bar. Squeezing 38 homes onto that site (presumably for more $$) creates major impacts that will degrade the cliff, the mature forest, and the entire bay ecosystem below (which includes salmon). Like concerned neighbors, we believe a full EIS should be required to further document these impacts.

We will continue to monitor and participate in the City’s review process for this project. And we have been working hard behind-the-scenes on bringing nature-integrated planning standards into Bellingham’s regulations so that every development is required to reach such goals (see our COB Urban Tree Protection Interim Policies work above on this page). Please support our advocacy work.

To learn more about the Mud Bay Cliffs development and push back effort, please visit this City of Bellingham page and/or MudBayCliffs.org Thanks for reading!


Tree Ivy Removal Teams

Protecting Our Local Trees from Deadly English Ivy


Hundreds (possibly thousands) of mature healthy trees in our communities are covered with invasive English Ivy. The plant thrives here. While rapidly spreading on the ground, English Ivy opportunistically climbs the trunks of any tree in its path and becomes a slow, silent tree killer. Every tree beset with English Ivy will die in a small number of years — no exceptions!

Trees within parks, along trails and greenways, adjacent to roads, and on private parcels are especially prone to this problem. Whatcom Million Trees Project is therefore beginning a concerted effort to remove the invasive from local trees. Small teams of WMTP volunteers armed with clippers, loppers, and small saws will initially focus on tree ivy removal in th parks and Greenways of Bellingham. Later we’ll expand into other areas.

Every tree that we save will be geotagged and tracked in a database. That mapping will help us to periodically re-check each tree to ensure its long-term survival.

To magnify our volunteer efforts community-wide, we’ll reach out to homeowners and neighborhood associations about the ivy problem and its easy, safe removal. Most folks can do it themselves or with minimal support from WMTP. No tree-climbing or special skills or tools are required! (See the simple steps below.) Go Ivy Teams!

Want to join this cool tree-saving effort? Please get in touch!

How to Remove English Ivy From Trees

  1. Focus on trunks. If ivy is climbing a tree trunk, it’s invasive English ivy. Other ivy varieties in the Pacific Northwest usually do not climb tree trunks.
  2. Check for hazards. Wear garden gloves to protect yourself from the gluey substance English ivy exudes at its roots. Keep an eye and ear out for any hornet nests to avoid. And be careful stepping over or around any forest limbs and debris to access the tree.
  3. Cut a survival ring. Cut the climbing English ivy vines at shoulder-height on the tree trunk, making sure you do that entirely around the tree, thoroughly. For thinner vines, a garden hand clipper/pruner will work fine. Use loppers – or a small hand saw — for any thicker vines.
Hand pruner
Lopper
Pruning saw
  1. Peel down, not up. Below your shoulder-height cut line, gently peel down and remove all vines from the tree, trying to minimize damage to the tree’s bark. Check for small ivy strands under moss or bark fragments. Leave the ivy that’s above the cut line alone. The higher ivy strands will brown and decompose over a few months and eventually fall off the tree.
  2. Remove around the base. Now focus on the English ivy that’s on the ground immediately surrounding the tree. If possible, clear a least a 6’ diameter perimeter around each tree’s base. In a really rugged site, that may not be possible, but remove what you can and then re-visit the growth at a later time. Grab a strand or two of ground-level ivy and pull upward, rolling it back away from the tree, which will also tend to lift the shallow roots. Then clip each long strand into smaller pieces. Dig up any remaining ivy roots, working gently to minimize damage to the tree’s surface roots.
  3. Dispose wisely. The best way depends on your situation…
    (a) If you are removing ivy from a single tree or a few in your yard, you can include the cuttings in your yard waste bin, if you have curbside service. Do NOT casually compost the ivy!
    (c) If you are removing ivy from trees in a larger area that also has substantial English ivy on the ground which will not be removed anytime soon, you can ‘hang’ them on top of ground ivy (and/or small bushes) located away from any tree to “air-compost” the cuttings. Most of the ivy pieces will decay and die quickly due to air exposure. A small amount may re-root, but it will not matter since it will be among other existing ground ivy.
    (c) If you have MORE ivy cuttings than one curbside yard waste bin and NO ground ivy remaining or bushes to air-compost on top of, consider spreading out the yard-waste bin disposal over a few pickup times. Or, leave your vine cuttings to dry out on top of a tarp or hardscape in your yard for several weeks and then toss into your yard waste when brown/withered.
  4. Track & tell. Last but not least, let us know about your tree ivy removal success by contacting us, telling us how many trees you saved and where. Thanks!

Tree Seedling Rescues

Rescuing & Re-Homing Native Tree Seedlings To Where They’ll Thrive


The idea is simple: Thousands of unwanted but healthy young native tree seedlings are destroyed every year in our County. Why not transplant some of them to where they can thrive, such as in one of our planting projects?

WMTP occasionally holds work parties to do that at large sites, such as on Saturday November 12, 2022 at Big Rock Garden Park. To join that fun work party, click here.

But here’s the great additional news: now individual homeowners with unwanted native tree seedlings popping up can also contribute seedlings! Here are the steps:

Step 1: For this program, we are currently only interested 12″-24″ tall seedlings of the following trees:
— Douglas fir,
— Grand fir,
— Sitka spruce,
— Western red cedar, and
— Bigleaf maple.
Unsure which specie(s) you have? See here for I.D. help. If your seedlings are smaller than 12″, please keep them in the ground for another year, if possible, before providing them to us.

Step 2: During a colder month (October through February) when tree seedlings are dormant, dig out each seedling wide enough and deep enough to capture all of its root mass.

Step 3: Pot each seedling in a one-gallon or larger plastic container (such as black plastic pots typically used by nurseries, usually freely available from them if you ask). IMPORTANT: Please follow these potting instructions carefully. Due to volunteer staff/time constraints, we will not be able to re-pot your tree if it is poorly potted — it may be discarded. 🙁

Step 4: Contact us to arrange a convenient delivery location/time for you to bring the potted seedling(s) to us in Bellingham. Please tell us in the contact form how many seedlings you have, their approximate size, and your neighborhood location.

Questions? Please get in touch! Thanks!


More Projects Will Be Announced Soon! Please Donate Today to Support Our Million Trees Mission