Feb 28, 2024 - News

City investigating deadly damage to Wedgwood tree

Two photos that show a large branched tree in Seattle and activists protesting its removal.

Astra, a Western red cedar in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood that members of Tree Action Seattle (gathered at right) had been trying to save. Photos: Courtesy of Tree Action Seattle

This time, tree activists were unable to save a giant Western red cedar in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood.

State of play: By the time members of Tree Action Seattle gathered on Saturday, Astra — a tree on Northeast 88th Street — had already been damaged beyond repair by someone who cut through the bark in a ring around the tree, according to the Seattle Times.

  • The urban tree advocacy group was there to protest the planned removal of the 100-year-old tree for development, Sandy Shettler of Tree Action Seattle told Axios.

A spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), which oversees compliance with the city's tree protection policies, said the department is investigating the damage to Astra.

  • A civil penalty based on the tree's value and the cost of restoration is required when a tree is illegally removed or damaged to the point that it will not survive, SDCI spokesperson Bryan Stevens told Axios.
  • Stevens said the value of Astra is close to $75,000 and the city is seeking an "expeditious legal remedy for these illegal actions."

Catch up quick: Tree Action Seattle was instrumental in the successful effort last year to protect Luma, another Thuja plicata about four blocks away from Astra.

  • Luma was determined to have been "culturally modified" by the Snoqualmie people over centuries and declared an archaeological site.
  • The site developer for the lot on which Astra sits is the same as the developer that had planned to remove Luma last year, per the Seattle Times.

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