Bellevue is proud to be a "city in a park," with 2,800 acres of parks and open space. The forests in our parks help keep our waters healthy and provide homes for wildlife. It's the trees in our neighborhoods, though, that make this city truly special. Two-thirds of all trees in Bellevue are on residential land.
Bellevue's estimated 1.4 million trees provide health and economic benefits, increase property values and traffic safety, reduce crime, filter out air pollution, limit stormwater runoff and improve water quality. Trees are also essential to the protection of salmon habitat because they provide shade along streams and preserve water quality by preventing erosion.
As part of Bellevue's Neighborhood Tree Ambassador program, residents volunteer to create walking tours of the trees in their neighborhoods. This year, they have created self-guided tree tours that are available to download.
The City of Bellevue is committed to stewarding the 2,500 acres of forest, playfields, and community gardens that make up our park system, along with the 8,000 acres of tree canopy in the city.
A 2017 assessment found that 37% of the City is covered by tree canopy. In the updated Comprehensive Plan, the City set a target of 40% tree canopy cover, as recommended by leading national experts American Forests. By achieving this goal, we can expand on the health and economic benefits that trees provide.
- Planted over 1,050 trees in city parks and open spaces (2016)
- Actively maintained 15 acres of natural areas each year
- Exceeded target for maintaining 70% of forests in healthy condition (72% of Bellevue forests are in a class 1 or 2 'healthy' state)
- Joined King County's 1 Million Tree Campaign
- Updated the Clearing and Grading code through the NPDES effort to require a permit for the removal of more than five trees over three years
To get involved with tree preservation in Bellevue, check out the many volunteer opportunities in our parks, or plant a tree on your own property using the Tree Care resources found in the tabs above.
Tree Canopy Assessment
Taking Stock of Our Tree Canopy
We have been measuring our tree canopy using aerial imaging roughly every 10 years since 1986. Up-to-date data on tree canopy cover and impervious surfaces allow the city to make informed decisions about stormwater management, land use and the benefits trees provide.
A 2017 tree canopy assessment provides key insights in Bellevue’s forests. While there has been a decline in tree cover since the first assessment in 1986, the decline has leveled off since 2008. Two-thirds of all the park land in Bellevue is forested, but a majority (65 percent) of the city’s tree canopy area is in suburban residential areas. The city is working to conserve existing trees while finding opportunities to plant more throughout Bellevue.
Check out our Tree Canopy Assessment Fact Sheet for a brief summary of the results.
Bellevue's abundance of trees on our streets not only enhance the experience for people walking, biking, and driving through the city, they also provide significant environmental benefits. Bellevue has a comprehensive inventory of its street trees on urban boulevards, which you can check out here:
King Conservation District Online Tree Canopy Planner
Check out King Conservation District's online Tree Canopy Planner tool, which includes Bellevue's tree canopy assessment data.
Tree Rules in Bellevue
Tree Care Resources
Your trees do a lot to take care of you, from keeping your air clean to reducing the risk of flooding. Do something in return to keep your neighboring trees healthy! Here is a list of resources on different aspects of tree care. If you are unsure of anything or think your tree might be a hazard, contact an ISA-Certified Arborist for a professional, trustworthy assessment.
If you are unsure whether a tree is yours or belongs to the city, refer to your property title report or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to help determine whether a tree is on public or private property.
For more information about trees, visit the City's Development Services department site.
Tree Canopy Mitigation
Bellevue remains committed to maintaining its "city in a park" character. However, steady development over the last 30 years has resulted in a loss of trees. In 1986, the tree canopy was estimated at 45 percent and by the year 2007, it had declined to 36 percent.
To accommodate growth over the coming decades, Sound Transit is building a light rail line through Bellevue and Puget Sound Energy is upgrading or adding electrical transmission lines. These projects will all result in some loss of tree canopy. The city is requiring mitigation to restore that tree canopy.
East Link Light Rail
To mitigate for the loss of vegetation in Mercer Slough Nature Park where the light rail guideway is being built, Sound Transit has agreed to extensive replanting. The city has worked collaboratively with Sound Transit to minimize to the greatest extent possible impacts to critical areas and their buffers as well as provide visual relief from the light rail facility. Details
Puget Sound Energy is applying for permits for this project, which includes the construction of a new substation at Richards Creek and an upgrade of approximately 18 miles of transmission line from Redmond to Renton, through Bellevue. PSE is applying for construction permits. Tree removal and mitigation will be determined as part of the permit review. Details at PSE Energize Eastside.
Lake Hills-Phantom Lake Transmission Line
PSE plans to build a new electrical transmission line between the Lake Hills and Phantom Lake substations. According to PSE, the project will increase overall system reliability and allow for better use of existing facilities for customers in the Lake Hills neighborhood.
The project involves the estimated removal of 295 trees on city-owned property. PSE will plant new trees and install landscaping to restore the impacted areas along the route and mitigate for any impacts to critical areas and/or critical area buffers. The exact number of trees to be replaced is to be determined through clearing and grading and right of way use permits issued by the city.
Per conditional use permit requirements, PSE will contribute $856,740 to the city to compensate for the value of the city-owned trees to be removed. This money will be placed in a fund to help pay for landscape restoration and mitigation materials, including plants and irrigation, required for the project.
Additional Project Information
Benefits of Trees
Benefits of Trees
Trees provide a multitude of environmental benefits, but are also help to enhance our health, economy, and livability of our cities. The trees in Bellevue provide the following benefits:
- Improve air quality
- Preventing erosion and reducing the risk of landslides.
- Absorb CO2 emissions to help combat climate change
- Break down pollutants
- Absorb stormater to help ensure clean water in our streams and lakes
- Reduce flood risk
- Increase property values
- Support public health and wellbeing
- Enhance neighborhood character
Have you always wondered what a certain tree was? Maybe you saw it along the sidewalk downtown, with fan-shaped leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in October. Or maybe it was along a trail, with deep green boughs and soft red bark.
Now you can find out using our Bellevue Tree Guide! Every trip to a park is better when you know what you're looking at.