Trees and Our City

Bellevue is known as a “city in a park.” In fact, Bellevue has 2,800 acres of parks and open space. Our trails, open space, parks, recreation centers, ballfields, blueberry farms, community gardens (p-patches) and playgrounds make up 10 percent of the city’s lands. Nearly three out of four residents have a park or trail access point with a 1/3 mile walk from their home.

Bellevue's estimated 1.4 million trees provide health and economic benefits, increase property values and traffic safety, reduce crime, 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.

Approximately 67 percent of Bellevue’s tree canopy is located in city parks.

2017 marks Bellevue’s 26th year of recognition as a “Tree City USA” community by the national Arbor Day Foundation. Bellevue is committed to working with our residents and business to help build a healthy community by planting trees.

Environmental Stewardship Initiative

In 2006, the city launched its Environmental Stewardship Initiative with a goal of bringing a more focused and integrated approach to Bellevue’s environmental efforts.

Preservation of the tree canopy is among those efforts. Between 1986 and 2006, Bellevue’s tree canopy experienced a 20 percent loss. As of 2007, the citywide tree cover was 36 percent in Bellevue.

In the 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update, the city adopted a 40 percent urban tree canopy goal. An action plan is also underway for meeting this target across the many different land use types where tree canopy can exist (e.g. right of way, commercial, residential, and public lands.)

Learn more about efforts to increase the city’s tree canopy in the Environmental Stewardship Strategic Plan (view pages 58-74.)

Tree Canopy Management

The city is working to preserve and maintain our tree canopy through the following recent activities and initiatives:

  • Planted over 1,050 trees in city parks and open spaces (2016)
  • Actively maintained 15 acres of natural areas each year
  • Achieved target for maintaining 72 percent of urban forests in a healthy condition (target of 70 percent in class 1 or 2 condition)
  • 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
  • Conducted a thorough inventory of trees in the right of way and in parks   
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