In order to keep the Aubrey Davis Park corridor safe for users, the city has contracted with a company to remove more than 100 dead or dying trees starting on Nov. 30 and finishing by year’s end.
Alaine Sommargren, the city’s parks operations manager, said the majority of the trees marked by a city tree-risk assessor were part of the original installations when the park was planted in the early 1990s. Much of the landscape is slightly aging, causing the trees to decline or fail probably due to drought and faulty soil.
“We’re always looking at trees in various parts of the parks. Clearly the I-90 trail, or the Mountains to Sound Trail, is very highly populated. We have commuters on it, we have a lot of people who use it just for walking, and we have a pretty strong interest in keeping that trail really safe,” she said.
One of the city’s handful of tree-risk assessors walked the entire main trail at Aubrey Davis Park, looking at trees and deciding if any of them would be at risk of falling during the winter onto or near the trail. He marked them, tagged them with orange spray paint and mapped them, and now Gray Owl Tree Services of Bothell will step in to do the removal job. Gray Owl was one of four bidders in the fall and offered the lowest price at just over $16,000.
More than one third of the trees were already slated for removal by King County Metro during its 2022 sewer line replacement, according to a city press release. Some other trees in the area will be pruned to ensure their safety.
Gray Owl will post work notices one week in advance at each location along the corridor. While working, a designated safety officer from the crew will alert trail users of any possible temporary closures when they’re dropping a tree and moving it out, Sommargren said.
According to the press release, the city will plant replacement trees in a mix of species throughout the winter in areas that are not impacted by the King County project.
Last winter, the city received a call noting that a dead tree fell across a trail in Aubrey Davis Park. City workers were soon on the scene to cut it out of the way. Sommargren said the tree didn’t hit anyone.
Sommargren said that the city regularly assesses trees in all of its parks, particularly along primary trails, park boundaries and roads, but things have changed this year because of COVID staff reductions. Crews usually remove trees in batches in different parks several times a year, but this time it’s just for Aubrey Davis Park. Sometimes, park neighbors will contact city staff about trees that may need to be assessed.
“We really try and be proactive about getting trees out that we know have the potential (of falling). That’s why we train our staff in tree-risk assessment,” Sommargren said.