The Heritage Tree Program
The Heritage Tree Program is a cooperative program between the City of Seattle and PlantAmnesty. The mission of this program is to celebrate Seattle’s Special Trees.
In 1995 the Education/Advocacy Committee of PlantAmnesty initiated the Seattle Heritage and Notable Tree Program. A few years later, the city became a cosponsor and the name was shortened to the Seattle Heritage Tree Program. The first Heritage Tree was recognized jointly by the City of Seattle and PlantAmnesty in 1996. There are now many more!
All trees must be within the Seattle City limits. Since PlantAmnesty is a nonprofit organization and not a legislative arm of the City, the Heritage Tree Program has no legal authority to declare Heritage Trees without the owner’s permission. Therefore all nominations must include the owner’s name and contact information.
With owner approval, the Heritage Tree nominations are reviewed by the Heritage Tree Committee and a determination is made by vote of the committee. Nomination forms are available online through the City of Seattle Website.* Each Heritage Tree owner receives a certificate. Additionally, tree owners may want to make their own arrangements for a plaque or engraved stone and have a dedication ceremony. PlantAmnesty has limited funds that can assist with this, please contact us if interested. Heritage Trees are entered in the registry and listed on the city’s website.
*Feb. 2022: The City of Seattle’s online form is currently disabled. To nominate your tree, please download and print the form here, and mail to the address on the form.
Legal protection for Heritage Trees is voluntary and optional. Most trees on the Heritage Tree list are unprotected by City ordinance or conservation easement. We believe that the formal recognition and educational value of the designation encourages tree preservation. Some tree owners choose to put a Conservation Easement on their Heritage Tree. This is a contract that may give the tree legal protection now and in the future. However, no one is ever forced to keep a high risk tree.
Funding for the Seattle Heritage Tree program was originally supplied by a grant from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. No dedicated funding for the program currently exists. Funding is provided from time to time by various departments within the City of Seattle. In-kind volunteer services are provided by PlantAmnesty members of the Heritage Tree Committee and PlantAmnesty arborists.
Questions may be directed to the Heritage Tree Committee Chair by contacting PlantAmnesty.