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Posted on: May 22, 2017

Tree Tags in Mill Creek Town Center Share Value of Trees to the Community

An image of a tree with a tree tag
Money really does grow on trees! People wandering through the south end of Mill Creek Town Center can now see tags attached to trees featuring dollar signs. The tags are part of an educational effort undertaken by the City of Mill Creek to help the community understand the value that trees and landscaping add to the City.

“Mill Creek highly values aesthetics,” said Sherrie Ringstad, Mill Creek planning specialist. “Research shows that people linger and shop longer along tree-lined streets, and apartments and offices in wooded areas rent more quickly, and have higher occupancy rates and higher retention rates. So while trees provide natural beauty, they also enhance community economic stability.”

The City’s tree tags focus on three areas. An overall monetary value assesses the cost benefits of the tree, including the savings provided by factors such as having shade over a structure, which – according to the UN Urban Forestry office – can reduce air conditioning by 30 percent and reduce heating energy use by 20 to 50 percent.

Another area factored in to the tree value is the stormwater intercepted by the tree. Trees intercept and hold rain on leaves, branches and bark. They also act as mini-reservoirs, controlling runoff at the source, reducing soil erosion, and increasing infiltration and storage of rainwater through the tree’s root system.

Finally, the tree tag value includes the carbon that is stored and avoided. Trees sequester carbon dioxide in their roots, trunks, stems and leaves while they grow. Tree near buildings also reduce emissions associated with power production.

“There are a number of variables that go into calculating the value,” noted Ringstad. “Some assumptions are made, such as a particular lifespan for specific trees. It’s more of an educational tool than a precise scientific methodology, but the approach to getting the value for each tree is consistent.”

The values were calculated using

The program does more than create awareness of the environmental benefits of the trees. According to Ringstad, knowing the values of the trees is educational for planning staff as they form landscape plans in the future.

“A community’s urban forest is an extension of its pride and community spirit,” she said. “We love trees, and all that they mean for our community.”

To showcase pride in Mill Creek’s urban forest, people are encouraged to take pictures with the tagged trees and upload them to Mill Creek’s new social media channels:, or Environmentally friendly prizes will be given to the first 10 people to post a picture.
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