Camas Tree Protectors get honks of support

Protest focuses on downed trees at Northwest 43rd Avenue subdivision

Members of the Camas Tree Protectors group stand next to a planned, 12-home development on Northwest 43rd Avenue in Camas on July 17, to protest a developer's decision to remove the majority of the property's trees.

At left, youth from the Camas Tree Protectors group hold a "We speak for the trees" sign at a July 17 event. Pictured from left to right are Camas High School students Quaid Milholen, 16; Lucus Delgado, 15; Cole Kendall, 16; and Annalin King, 16.

Geri Rubano (center), of Camas, holds a "Develop Camas with trees please" sign at a July 17 Camas Tree Protectors event near a new subdivision off Northwest 43rd Avenue in Camas.

A group of about three dozen members of the Camas Tree Protectors (CTP) group waved signs and shouted for passing drivers to honk in support of Camas’ urban trees at an event held July 17, across the street from a new subdivision off Northwest 43rd Avenue in Camas.

Alicia King, a member of the CTP group, which boasts more than 500 members on its Facebook site, said organizers planned the visible “sit-in” event near the development at 2223 N.W. 43rd Ave., after CTP members learned Camas city leaders had signed a private settlement with the developer, Waverly Homes LLC of Vancouver, effectively dismantling a Clark County hearings examiner’s 2018 decision to retain nearly 40 trees on the property.

“It was very upsetting,” King said of the legal settlement between the city and Waverly Homes, “because we lost everything we’d fought for on that property.”

The settlement, reached in late March, was in response to a lawsuit filed by Waverly Homes against the city of Camas after a third-party hearings examiner ruled the developer must take greater steps to preserve a wetlands area and retain more significant trees on the site.

The July 17 event, held from 5 to 7 p.m. across from the mostly cleared subdivision, drew honks of support from the majority of those driving past.

Under the rules of the settlement agreement with the city, the developer will be required to pay up to $15,000 to the city’s tree fund — a pool of money for replacing trees lost in developments by planting new trees in other areas of Camas — with set amounts for each of the more than 70 trees removed from the property.

The Northwest 43rd Avenue development began before the city of Camas passed a new urban tree protection ordinance in 2018, which requires developers to save a certain number of older, more established trees or pay a certain amount of money per downed tree into the city’s tree fund.