Boulder Urban Forest Strategic Plan

City of Boulder, Parks & Recreation, Forestry Division

Boulder, CO

"Boulder’s community urban forest includes approximately 50,725 inventoried street and park trees, managed by the the City of Boulder, primarily by the City Forestry Division. These trees are a subset of the overall urban forest that also includes tens of thousands of trees on public and private property. As the urban forest has grown, challenges and opportunities have emerged that require  a proactive management approach and a long-term planning strategy to preserve the health, sustainability, and benefits of trees  and canopy cover. In 2016, the City of Boulder contracted with the Davey Resource Group to develop an Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) to specifically address the unique challenges and opportunities Boulder’s urban forest will face over the next 20 years." 


Two Forks has been contracted by the City of Boulder to engage the public in their Urban Forest Strategic Plan. We have been working alongside the Boulder Forestry Division and Davey Resource Group to better understand the challenges and opportunities that are facing the Boulder tree canopy; and how to get the public more involved in the overall care and growth of that canopy.  

Our first step in this process of engagement was to get "Trees" back into the mindset of the public. There are along of other city planning intiatives going on, and with that brings on some civic fatigue. So how do we creatively capture their attention? We decided to start with asking the public to share their stories about trees. 

Tree Story Stations:
We set up stations at a variety of events, the Boulder Recreation Centers, and at the Main Library Seeds Cafe. We've had over 100 submissions at the stations and online. We were moved by the stories, pictures, poems and input from people of all ages. You can see some of these stories here. The boards were filled with stories and attached to wood debris chips. There was also a monthly drawing for entries. 

We put out two different surveys. One to our list of stakeholders that was more of a long-form survey to gauge their level of understanding. The other was more of short-form for the general public. We have received over 250 responses that have contributed to a better understanding of how we need to move forward with engagement and outreach. 

Tree Speak:
Our first (and only) public meeting was hosted at the Rayback Collective. We think if we are asking people to engage in a civic duty, there should at least be cold beer and food close by. The event was well atteneded, with a wide variety of participants. We included several stations for interaction, education and feedback. 

Often times it is difficult to involve teenagers in a community driven process. Through coordination efforts with the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board (YOAB) we were able to work with our technical advisory committee (TAC) to provide an overview of the urban tree canopy in Boulder and the effect of impending threats. Students were excited about the prospect of how they could participate in communicating these threats to their community. As a result a semester long project will be co-developed with the students, allowing them to take their creative ideas and help educate the public around Boulder’s Urban canopy.

Working Group:
One of our main goals for the project is to increase community advocay of the urban tree canopy by uncovering why a non-profit organization dedicated to this cause has not yet been established and uncover potential champions who could facilitate this initiative. By conducting meetings with key community members for a more focused discussion we uncovered a bias to Boulder’s Open Space. This discussion also brought forth a number of stratigic approaches from the participants on ways to achive this goal. A second working group meeting is scheduled to further explore various approaches through case studies and ultimitly outline key next steps. 

Results to date: 

• Increased interest list and volunteers
•Successfully engaged hard to capture demographics-teenagers and 20-30 year old in the community.
• Over 100 tree stories submitted
• Over 250 survey responses





We are so proud to be working with these amazing people
as part of our Collective:

Brain Bolts
Eric Boelts | Principal+Creative

Greening the City
Dr. Angela Loder | Strategic Planner and Researcher