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2021 Year In Review: Denver’s Forestry Office Plants Over 1,300 Trees

Lexi Brewer, Urban Forestry Operations Assistant, City and County of Denver

This past year was a busy one for Denver’s Office of the City Forester, as we provided free trees, education and resources to the community. Not only did we continue educating and enlisting the help of Denver residents to identify, treat and replace ash trees as part of our Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) prevention efforts, our work extended even further into the community as we implemented additional programs available to residents like planting free trees, the GAP tree removal and replacement plan and the Forestry Neighborhood Initiative in southwest Denver.

Read on for a recap of what we accomplished this year and how you can apply to receive a free tree in 2022.  

2021 by the numbers

Collection of stats for 2021 regarding tree services in Denver
Council District# of trees planted
1213
230
373
438
557
6119
7278
8230
9140
1088
1192
Total1,361
City and County of Denver 2015 Council Districts and Current Precinct Boundaries

Why we plant trees in Denver

As part of the Be A Smart Ash campaign, we’ve been focused on replacing ash trees as a defense against EAB. Since 1 in 6 trees in Denver is an ash, when EAB is discovered here, it will leave gaps in our beautiful but fragile tree canopy. Therefore, we’ve been proactively combatting these inevitable gaps with the addition of new and diverse tree species.

In addition to defending against EAB, trees are important for the health of Denver’s residents, particularly in the summer. Trees cool and clean the air, provide shade and slow down rainfall. In fact, American Forests estimates that nationwide, city trees prevent approximately 1,200 heat-related deaths and countless heat-related illnesses annually. Learn more from Denver City Forester Mike Swanson about how trees combat extreme heat in Denver’s historically underserved neighborhoods.

Why the need for target neighborhoods

Denver’s Office of the City Forester works with community partners and researchers to prioritize areas of the city that could benefit the most from free tree services. Learn more about how we prioritize tree planting areas in neighborhoods across the city depending on canopy cover and household income.

Where to apply for free trees in 2022

Tree plantings, removals and prunes this year were all part of three different programs that together served our Denver community. Learn more about these programs and how you can access their services in 2022:

  • Free Trees Program: Since the launch of the Be A Smart Ash program, the Office of the City Forester has planted more than 10,000 free trees for Denver property owners in the public right-of-way. It’s easy to apply for a free tree online and if you qualify, you’ll receive tree planting support and instructions on how to care for your tree.
  • GAP Program: The Ash Tree GAP Removal & Replacement Program removes and replaces smaller, poor-condition ash trees in the public right-of-way throughout the city. In 2021, 227 trees were removed, and 165 trees were planted as part of the GAP Program.
  • Forestry Neighborhood Initiative: The Denver Forestry Neighborhood Initiative focuses on pruning or removing trees that pose a risk to public safety, as well as planting new trees when space allows. In 2021, this initiative oversaw the planting of 208 trees, as well as the removal of 110 trees, 13 tree prunings, 2 stump grinds and the watering of 167 trees. Property owners who qualify for a free tree or for tree maintenance will receive a letter and a postcard in the mail with information on which service(s) they qualify for and how to claim them. However, every property owner in Denver is eligible for a free tree if they think they have space in their public right-of-way.

We look forward to another year of partnering with our Denver community to protect our tree canopy and improve the health and wellness of residents through trees! For more information about any of these programs, email tree@denvergov.org or call the Denver Office of the City Forester at 720-913-0651.