The Urban Forest: It’s In Denver’s Nature

June 1, 2023 / Comments (0)


Nurturing a robust urban forest means a lot more than just making the city pretty. We think trees are cool, and they make our city even cooler in more ways than one. Denver’s tree canopy is critical to our resiliency when it comes to combatting the effects of climate change. 

Growing and caring for the city’s trees? It’s In Denver’s Nature.

All trees are giving trees. They clean our air, cool our streets and even slow down rain runoff so more of that “free water” makes its way into our soil. That’s why we plant new trees, protect existing trees from threats like pests and take care of the trees that take care of us.  

In fact, last year, we invested more than $681,227 in Denver’s urban canopy. 

That’s a lot of trees. But when it comes to the resilience of our urban forest, we aren’t just counting trunks. We also work to weave in the interconnected efforts of water conservation, landscape transformations, habitat protection and environmental stewardship. In other words: we consider our nature while doing what comes natural to us. 

At a glance, it’s easy to see that Denver is doing a tree-mendous job. In 2022, we: 

  1. Planted just over 4,200 trees on public property, 870 of which were planted in areas of greatest need according to Denver’s Parks and Recreation’s Neighborhood Equity Index. And we’re doing the same thing in 2023.
  2. Removed 420 ash trees through the GAP tree removal and replacement plan
  3. Collected nearly 800 tons of leaves through Denver’s LeafDrop program in partnership with Denver’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure and Ace Hardware—up 260 tons from 2021.
  4. Pruned 33 trees and removed 42 trees that posed a risk to public safety. We did this through the Forestry Neighborhood Initiative in specific neighborhoods in southwest Denver.

Water Conservation and Transforming Landscapes  

Water worries in Denver are nothing new, and while trees do drink their share, they give back so much more, which­ is why we’re embracing the beauty of Coloradoscaping – “less water, more trees, less rock, more bees” – in our parks and public places to better balance the use of our precious natural resources.  

Habitat Protection and Environmental Stewardship 

Last summer, the GOCO Resiliency Youth Program employed 113 youth from four local nonprofits, and they completed 17 projects, including forest management at Bear Creek Park. From protecting trees against beaver damage to removing old caging that were girdling trees, not only did youth contribute to Denver’s urban canopy, they established a foundation for continued understanding of our natural world, the seeds of environmental stewardship planted for the future.

Key Partnerships and Programming

In 2023, we will continue to work with longtime partners such as The Park PeopleDowntown Denver Partnership and CSU Salazar Center, and seek out new programming that supports the urban forest. The Select Tree Evaluation Program (STEP) is one such program that allows us to research and increase tree diversity to protect against invasive species and ­help the urban canopy grow more resilient. 

It’s In Denver’s Nature 

Denver is already a resilient city with resilient people who care about the environment – but we all have to do more. Together with Denver residents and our partners, Denver Parks and Recreation is taking action today while also preparing for what’s next, and striving to innovate as we go. That’s all part of becoming a more resilient city into the future. 

We hope you’ll grow with us, too. 

Want to get involved in caring for our urban forest? Interested in a free tree? Want your compost to do the most? Learn more at