Sowing the Seeds for a Greener Future in Downtown Denver
What does it mean to be ‘green’? On an individual level, it may mean changing your purchasing habit to buy local produce and products instead frequenting big box stores. Maybe starting a compost bin to divert the waste you create from the landfill, planting a tree in your yard, or buying your clothes second hand. Being green could mean changing your commuting habits from driving to biking to work. Being green boils down to making decisions in everyday life that reduce the impact one has on our planet’s resources.
For the Partnership, being green means taking action to develop programs that bring green infrastructure, equitable transportation – like the 5280 trail, and sustainable practices to our Center City. Through our Urban Forest Initiative, we are greening the City, literally – through trees! This $7.5M initiative, funded by support from the City and County of Denver, Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, the Downtown Denver Partnership, downtown property owners, and corporate philanthropic donors – Bank of America, First Bank, and the Zoellner Family, is leveraging public and private partnerships to build state-of-the-art tree infrastructure throughout our center city.
If you walk around downtown today, you’ll notice trees planted in inadequate planting spaces – a single 5-foot by 5-foot grate with an insufficient amount of soil, a tree a broken branch, or a tree with brick pavers right adjacent to the trunk. Unfortunately, this is the norm for our downtown trees; due to these growing conditions, most of our trees only live 5-10 years. This initiative is not just about planting trees, it is about giving trees the environment needed to thrive; to have a long and healthy life. The Urban Forest Initiative provides funding support to property owners who commit to installing large tree planting areas with protective infrastructure, such as raised curbs and perennials. To date, the Partnership, the City, and property owners have committed nearly $3 million dollars to improve the growing conditions for 186 trees.
The future of downtown is green. With commitments from our downtown community, we can achieve the Urban Forest Initiative’s ambitious goal of providing a better growing environment for 500 trees within our center city. And with those 500 trees will come measurable economic, environmental, and wellness benefits. Research shows that businesses on tree-lined streets see 9%-12% higher revenue. Visitors frequenting downtown restaurants and retailers will embrace the cooler environment felt under a tree’s canopy. Downtown’s employees may feel less stress and more satisfaction. Our streets will be safer as vehicles tend to drive slower and have less accidents on treelined streets. The air we breathe will be cleaner.
Next time you are downtown, really take a look at the trees. Take a minute to compare traditional tree infrastructure to tree infrastructure that has been improved through the Urban Forest Initiative. You can find the locations of completed and pending projects on our website. See the difference for yourself. Look at the trees outside your office or your favorite restaurant or shop. Think about the area and how you personally might feel with large mature trees shading over our streets and sidewalks.
This initiative is not for our future, but for the future of our children and grandchildren. Join us in investing in our community. Applications for funding through the Urban Forest Initiative are now open! If you are a property owner or manager, apply for this incredible opportunity. If you are a resident or employee, contact your property manager and advocate for trees! Together, we can sow the seeds for a greener future and make Downtown Denver an even more attractive, equitable, and enjoyable place than ever before – now and for years to come.