Seattle City (spot)Light: Heidi Narte

Heidi Narte has always loved trees. As a child, she climbed them. As a teenager, she spent hours hanging out in them. So, it’s no surprise she joined City Light in 2014 as an Arboriculturist. It’s also no surprise that, in honor of the recently celebrated Arbor Day, we’re shining the (spot)Light on her.

A native Washingtonian, Heidi grew up on Bainbridge Island, but resides in Burien where she enjoys its thriving sense of community. “I love the community spirit in Burien. We have so many events,” Heidi said. “My favorite is the Burien UFO festival. There’s a band, costumes, prizes. It’s a lot of fun. In Burien, we find any excuse to get together, shut down the main street, listen to live music, dance, and have a good time.”

Heidi received a B.S. in Urban Forestry with Environmental Restoration focus from the University of Washington and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Seattle University. In this week’s (spot)Light, she talks about her role at City Light, her latest hobby of birdwatching (she loves Ospreys) and her passion for the environment.

Heidi in her natural element

“I think the quality of life here in Seattle is amazing. The nature is fantastic. My latest hobby is birding. I’m often tooling around, going for walks with my binoculars. I birdwatch all over. Some of my frequent spots include my neighborhood, Discovery Park, and the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Skagit County has some pretty wonderful places to watch birds too. I also enjoy puttering in my garden, taking photos, hiking, and bicycling.”

“Most people know our division as Vegetation Management. We coordinate pruning the trees back from powerlines so they won’t interrupt service or be a safety issue. The City of Seattle has a requirement that for every tree we take down, we plant two. We do two plantings (spring/fall) and perform a lot of outreach to different neighborhoods. I love our Urban Tree Replacement program and our customers love it, too. I often hear them say, ‘you’re giving me a tree?’ And we say ‘yes!’ I think it’s just a win-win for everyone. For us. For our customers. For the environment.”

“When deciding where to plant, we look at historically underserved communities. We examine the census data to see where it might be economically a little harder for folks to buy a tree. We select trees that won’t grow too tall and get into our powerlines. I also try to find trees that have some habitat benefits for pollinators and birds and look at species that are not overrepresented in the city (like cherry or maple trees) to try to build diversity in our tree population.”

“I feel really good about the work that I do. It fits in well with my personal mission statement: To make the environment a little better than when I got here…to improve it without being insensitive to the needs of humans. I want to be a voice for nature that can’t speak for itself—places, critters, and plants.”

Thank you Heidi for taking such important care of our environment and for your significant contributions to the utility!

Celebrate Arbor Day Oct. 17

Discovery Park

In the Pacific Northwest, we appreciate lush forests and greenery. Trees clean our air, shade us in the summer and shield us from that infamous Seattle rain. On Saturday, Oct. 17, join with neighbors and City officials and show our greenspaces some love. We’re celebrating Arbor Day with a series of volunteer events and work parties. Find an event from the list below, or spend some time in your own yard.

Seattle is nicknamed the Emerald City, and we have to keep up her reputation. For a full list of volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer Calendar.

Oxbow Park

Celebrate Arbor Day at Oxbox Park
Join Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in celebrating Seattle’s Arbor Day! Volunteers will be planting new trees and caring for established trees in Georgetown’s iconic Oxbow Park. A free Tree Walk touring the beautiful and interesting trees in the neighborhood will leave from the park at 11 a.m. Other activities include apple cider pressing and face painting with City Fruit, opportunities for Georgetown and South Park residents to plant trees with the Duwamish Tree Canopy Project and DIRT Corps, and an Ask the Arborist booth to answer all your tree questions.

Saturday, Oct. 17
9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
11 a.m. – Tree Walk
Oxbow Park, Georgetown
6430 Corson Ave S, Seattle
RSVP here


Green Lake Park

Celebrate Arbor Day at Green Lake Park
Come help get rid of Blackberry and maybe some English Ivy from shoreline habitat area Green Lake. Give native shrubs along the shoreline a chance to grow and thrive. Meet along path near intersection of N 64th Street and East Green Lake Way. There is a stop light on East Green Lake Way at this location.

Saturday, Oct. 17
9 a.m. – noon
RSVP here

Roxhill Park

Celebrate Arbor Day at Roxhill Bog
Join Duwamish Alive!  for its ongoing 10th anniversary year restoration event at Roxhill Bog. Hundreds of volunteers will be spread out at sites throughout the city to restore native habitats and make lasting improvements to open urban spaces.

Saturday, Oct. 17
9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
2850 SW Roxbury St, 98126
RSVP here

Northacres Off-Leash Area

Celebrate Arbor Day at Northacres Off-Leash Area
Help COLA (Citizens for Off-Leash Areas) rake fence lines and trails, spread wood chips and trim invasive vegetation. Bring your volunteer spirit and your pup!

Saturday, Oct. 17
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
12718 1st Ave NE
Details here