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  • Forestry
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Urban Forest Strategic Plan
  • TreeOpp
  • Branching Out
  • Resources - Forestry
  • Contact Forestry

Urban Forest Strategic Plan

The Urban Forest Strategic Plan is a long-term plan for trees on public and private property that was developed by combining technical studies with community input.


In response to recent and potential impacts to Boulder’s urban tree canopy including, but not limited to, the current Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation, climate change, and individual severe weather events such as the 2002 drought and extreme temperature fluctuations, Boulder’s Parks and Recreation Department recently completed a broader scope Urban Forest Strategic Plan. The plan capitalizes on the recently completed public tree inventory and makes recommendations for urban tree management for city parks and street rights-of-way. The Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) also allowed for a comprehensive community-wide discussion of the following topics:

  • Establishment of a baseline figure for urban tree canopy and long-term canopy goals;
  • Tree diversification goals;
  • Urban heat island mitigation;
  • Prioritization of tree planting activities;
  • Pesticide use guidelines for public trees;
  • Appropriate pesticide use guidelines for private property owners treating public street trees;
  • Placement and selection of tree species that are compatible with optimizing rooftop solar capture capacity; and
  • Public outreach and education regarding the benefits of the urban canopy.

Urban Forest Strategic Plan pdf

City Council Information Packet June 6, 2018

The Urban Forest Strategic Plan was sent to City Council as part of the Information Packet (IP) on June 6, 2018. The purpose of the IP was to provide City Council with the 2018 Urban Forest Strategic Plan and highlight key outcomes and implementation priorities that staff will begin immediately.  

Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) Approval June 4, 2018

Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) conducted a public hearing on the 2018 Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) and considered a motion to approve the document. The plan will guide the department’s Forestry workgroup over the next 20 years and shape the management of the city’s urban forest in a manner that is: a) consistent with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP), b) the department’s master plan and c) meets the community’s goals and priorities for a thriving urban forest canopy. 

The Urban Forest Strategic Plan was presented to the PRAB for approval on June 4, 2018.  The board unanimously approved the plan. 

Open House March 10, 2018

The final draft of the Urban Forestry Strategic Plan (UFSP) was presented to the Boulder community at the final Open House hosted at Upslope Brewing Company. This meeting provided a chronology of the research, community outreach and milestones that occurred throughout the process. Additionally, this meeting provided City Forestry the opportunity to present a comprehensive summary of the strategic goals and actions that will take place in order to meet the needs of Boulder’s urban forest as well as community stated desires for the future of their urban forest. 

Public Open House March 9, 2017

Thank you to those who could join us for the public open house on March 9, 2017. We had great community turnout and received a lot of feedback. For those of you who were unable to make it or just wanted a little more time to digest the information, the presentation information is provided below. Please feel free to share this with friends and neighbors who might be interested. Online feedback was collected through March 31. All of the feedback from the open house and online comments will be combined to inform the next step of the process.

Branching Out Boulder

Branching Out Boulder is an initiative to get the community involved in the implementation of the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP). Please visit the Branching Out Boulder page for information.

Building Blocks for the UFSP

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Long Term Strategy (On-Going)

In September 2013, City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department Forestry staff discovered an EAB infestation within the city. The inter-agency delimitation survey found EAB within several neighborhoods in central Boulder. Subsequent detection efforts by Forestry staff also found EAB at low levels outside the original detection area. Forestry staff consulted with leading EAB experts from across the United States and Canada to develop the initial emergency EAB response. An Interdepartmental EAB Strategic Group was formed and developed the long term strategy for EAB including public education/outreach, tree planting, ash tree removals, limited pesticide applications, release of biocontrols, collaborative research projects and a broader scope Urban Forest Strategic Plan.

Public Tree Inventory (Completed)

The first step toward an Urban Forest Strategic Plan was to identify the existing public tree resource. In winter 2014 -2015, Forestry staff contracted with Davey Resource Group to update the public tree inventory. The data was imported into tree inventory and asset management software to track not only EAB related maintenance moving forward, but all tree maintenance for public trees in city parks and in street rights-of-way. The public tree inventory is also available for download as an open dataset.

Urban Forest Resource Analysis (Completed)

In fall 2015, Forestry staff contracted with Davey Resource Group to analyze Boulder’s urban forest resources. The analysis pdf describes the current structural characteristics of Boulder’s community urban forest resource, using established tree sampling, numerical modeling, and statistical methods to provide a general accounting of the benefits. The analysis provides a “snapshot” of this resource at its current population, structure, and condition. The analysis provides baseline data to better understand the current status of the urban forest population and is a starting point for determining new maintenance and management policies and procedures, as well as future budgetary needs. 

Urban Tree Canopy Assessment (Completed)

Mapping of land cover within Boulder’s current city boundary is complete. The comprehensive map identifies the location and extent of tree canopy as well as impervious surfaces, water, and other pervious areas like turf, low-growing vegetation, and bare soil. To further understand the relationship of tree canopy and the community, the land cover map was used in conjunction with other existing data layers to assess the following:

  • Overall canopy cover
  • Canopy potential
  • Canopy cover by land use, parks, and maintenance districts
  • Forest fragmentation (connectivity of canopy cover)
  • Carbon storage
  • Annual benefits to air quality, stormwater runoff reduction, and carbon sequestration
  • Priority planting sites for further reducing and managing stormwater runoff. 

Staff Contact

Kathleen Alexander, City Forester, at 303-441-3406

More Information

For more information on the Parks and Recreation Forestry Services and Programs, please visit and

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