There are few issues that draw standing-room-only crowds to local city council meetings, but in the days before the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on everything even remotely “crowded,” the Camas City Council used to pack the house when officials discussed things like funding for firefighters and protecting the city’s tree canopy.
At an August 2018 city council meeting, for example, dozens of passionate Camas residents packed the room to show support for the Camas Urban Tree Program. The program marked the first time city officials had implemented any type of real protection for the city’s trees.
In the months before the council passed the urban tree program, the city’s lead planner, Sarah Fox — who has since moved on to bigger and brighter things managing Washington Department of Commerce’s climate program — said the issue was led by citizens who were shocked to learn during Camas’ comprehensive planning that the city could do little to prevent homeowners or developers from tearing out old and established trees.
Fox also warned in 2018 that the urban tree program was a “good jumping-off point” that would likely need to be adjusted in the future.
In fact, several Camas residents who testified at public hearings on the tree program in 2018, said they worried city leaders were not doing enough to protect some of the city’s older, more established evergreens and were allowing developers to replace trees older than 100 years with clusters of young saplings.