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Urban Forest Strategic Plan

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Boulder Forestry received approval in 2018 for the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP), a comprehensive assessment of and 20-year plan for our Boulder urban tree canopy developed with extensive input from the community.  

Boulder's urban canopy covered approximately 16 percent of the city’s area in 2013. Ash tree losses due to EAB will reduce Boulder’s canopy by nearly 25 percent (to just 12 percent coverage) in the coming years. Given expected losses due to invasive pests such as EAB and to continued climate change stressors, Boulder Forestry’s overarching 20-year goal will be to restore and maintain, rather than increase, its current canopy cover of 16 percent. 


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Specific actions to meet the needs of Boulder’s urban forest as well as community stated desires for the future of our urban forest are grouped within four themes of sustainable urban forestry:  

Plan:  Urban forestry is an important part of Boulder’s resilience strategy. Increasing the resilience and sustainability of the urban forest directly supports the resilience of the community. The priorities include; establishing a no-net-loss canopy goal, developing a planting initiative that increases trees on public and private property, increasing species diversity, development of specific resiliency plans (climate, emergency, drought, pests), and integrating urban forestry goals with other city guiding documents. 

Manage:  Since 2013, the personnel, training, equipment, and budget to support the maintenance of public trees has not kept pace with community expectations, leading to longer pruning cycles, increasing response times, and deferred maintenance. Reasons for this include the steeply increasing costs of contracted tree care services and traffic control and an unprecedented number of recent tree removals due to severe weather events and invasive pests, including EAB. These management priorities and tactics provide guidance for steering Boulder’s advanced and proactive urban forest management program back in line with the community vision for the urban forest. 

Protect:  The urban forest is a valuable asset, one which must be nurtured and protected. This is accomplished through municipal code, policies, and design and construction standards that support tree planting, site improvements and tree protection. The priorities include strengthening tree protection codes and policies and updating licensing requirements for tree care companies performing tree work in Boulder.  

Engage:  The Boulder community places a high value on environmental stewardship. In the development of the UFSP, many stakeholders expressed a desire for a community-based urban forest advocacy group to promote, protect, and enhance Boulder’s urban forest. Priorities to engage the community are; communicating UFSP goals and plans, diversifying funding sources and partners, facilitating private property tree plantings and maintenance, and the establishment of a partner non-profit urban forest foundation.