The trees finally come down at Ingraham.
  • R.B.
  • The trees finally come down at Ingraham.
The Seattle school district started cutting down a grove of trees at Ingraham High School at 8:30 a.m. today, even as a group of environmentalists protested against it. The tree removal came more than two months after a King County Superior Court Judge lifted an injunction to stop it, clearing the way for the construction of a classroom building. Judge Theresa Doyle ruled that local environmentalist group Save the Trees—who filed a lawsuit against the district to stop more than 70 trees from being razed two years ago—had failed to prove that the district had violated environmental laws.

Save the Trees, headed by local activist Steve Zemke, argued in court that the trees at Ingraham, some of them decades old, were a rare plant habitat. They asked Seattle Public Schools to do an Environmental Impact Statement instead of an environmental checklist to show that the construction would have no adverse impact on the trees.The group also wanted the district to construct the building extension on the north end instead of the west end of the Ingraham campus. But the district said that would not be a viable alternative. SPS scaled down the project, and decided to cut only 27 trees.

But that did little to appease Save the Trees, who criticized the district's actions today morning at a press conference. The group did not interfere with the tree cutting process however, the school district's facilities communications person Tom Redman said, staying away from the cordoned off areas. "There were some verbal protests, but that's about all," Redman, who was supervising the work, said. "Weather permitting, we are going to try to finish cutting all the trees today."

"Ingraham is only a precursor to many more trees being lost," Zemke said in an email. "Unfortunately trees have no standing in Seattle and no voice. Neighbors and others who want to keep our city green with trees must be their voice." Save the Trees is currently working with a group of tree advocates called "Save Our Urban Forest Infrastructure" to create stronger protection for trees and urban forests. "So that we don't become the Emerald City in legend only," Zemke said.

Jump to see the site of the proposed school building addition.

The site of the proposed school building addition.
  • R.B.
  • The site of the proposed school building addition.