Camas expands Urban Tree Program and grows Lacamas Lake green space

New city code updates protocol on tree removal and replacement; city adds 70 acres to Lacamas Lake green space

CAMAS — The city of Camas is making headway in the conservation land surrounding Lacamas Lake as well as applying their Urban Tree Project to more developments.

“The most important thing is the city has really been trying, I think successfully for some time, to balance the need for open space preservation,” said Robert Maul, the planning director for the city of Camas. “But also allow for thoughtful development in the community.”

Lacamas Lake will soon have an additional 140 acres of conservation land surrounding it. File Photo,
Lacamas Lake will soon have an additional 140 acres of conservation land surrounding it. File Photo,

In August of last year, citizens and council created the Urban Tree Program after securing grant money. Their goal was to remove much of the ambiguity in the existing urban tree legislation on Camas’ books.

Through the program, guidelines have been established regarding when tree removal is permitted, when trees must be replaced and with how many more trees as well as protecting types of trees in places of new development.

“In the end, there will be some tree removal, but there’s also a lot of tree planting,” he said. “We can’t save every tree. If somebody has the legal, lawful ability to develop the property, they should be able to do so.” 

It is largely based off a tree unit system; the larger the diameter of the tree, the more credits or units that tree is worth. This incentivises not removing all the trees for a new development site, he said. 

Before working in Camas, Maul was the planning director for the city of Battle Ground for 12 years. There, the code protecting and encouraging urban trees was virtually non-existent, he said. In Camas, where Maul has worked for the past five and ½ years, the program was adopted early on and has only grown in popularity.

Surrounding Lacamas Lake is the more recent accomplishment of the city regarding trees and conservation. An additional 70 acres of green space has been added to the area, bring the space’s total size to 1,000 acres. 

Maul said another 70 acres is currently being evaluated for induction into the space, and is expected to be added soon. 

“It’s a partnership on building our community together,” Maul said. “It’s been great that we’ve had such impassioned residents that want to make Camas a better place. I think we’re very lucky to have that synergy here.”

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