Urban Forest Initiative

Building a forest within the city for the benefit of all.

The mission of the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) is to grow Denver’s urban forest through education, built infrastructure, and maintenance.

Just like streetlights and waterlines, trees are essential infrastructure, but unlike street lights and waterlines, they have not received the same priority within our right-of-ways. Trees are often planted in areas that are too small to support their growth, not given the water or care that they need, and used as a relief area for our furry friends.

Trees are not only beautiful, but they provide economic, wellness, and environment benefits to our center city that only increase over time. A healthy tree canopy provides improved air quality, safer streets, higher income streams for businesses, reduced stress among local employees, and a shaded sidewalk for those frequenting our downtown businesses.

The Urban Forest Initiative is a City-funded initiative reimagining how trees are planted and cared for within our urban core. UFI works directly with property owners to build vibrant, large planting areas to provide a supportive environment for every one of our downtown trees.

Trees play an important role in the future of our city. In The Outdoor Downtown Master Plan – a collaboration between the Downtown Denver Partnership and Denver Parks and Recreation that engaged over 4,000 citizens in outreach – 25% of citizens identified trees as their number one priority for basic amenities within Downtown. Building a healthy and thriving urban forest is no small task, involving more heavy construction than simple tree planting. It is estimated to cost $7.5 million over a ten year period to create the infrastructure needed and provide maintenance to grow our tree canopy.

Downtown Denver's current tree canopy
Downtown Denver's future tree canopy
Decrease in crime with an enhanced tree canopy

The Urban Forest Initiative is funded in majority by the City and County of Denver through the Parks Legacy fund. Supplemental financial support comes from our partners at the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, and generous donors Bank of America, FirstBank, and the Zoellner Family Foundation, and downtown property owners.

We have set a goal of $1,000,000 of philanthropic donations to support the Urban Forest Initiative. These donations go directly to building tree planting infrastructure within downtown Denver. A huge thank you to our donors for making this initiative possible.


Urban Forest Initiative Partners

A huge thank you to our donors for making this initiative possible.

Thank You to Our Individual Donors

  • Lynne Brown
  • Stephanie Henley
  • Consolidated Services
  • Lisa Marie Eytcheson
  • Nathaniel Evans
  • Ted Halsey
  • Lisa Beth Whiting
  • Jennifer Koskinen
  • Elizabeth Conover
  • David Entremont
  • Eaon Roberts
  • Patrick Hannon
  • John M Desmond
  • Patrick Hannon
  • Stacie Zidan
  • Ramonna Robinson
  • Christopher Wilson
  • Erich Tanner
  • Allison Nash
  • Grow Shade
  • Randy Thelen
  • Dana Mack
  • Allison Nash
  • Haley Wallace
  • Adina Johnson
  • Adam Bushman
  • Emily Mytkowicz
  • Audrey Wilson
  • Ryan Dorsey
  • Kristen Leary
  • Kari Ellis
  • Kristina Reilly
  • Chris Geddes
  • Richard Weber
  • Adam Perkins
  • Devon Baggs
  • Eldorado Artesian
  • Bellco Credit
  • UMB Bank
  • BKD CPAs & Adviso
  • SEH Inc

Build the Canopy

A typical downtown tree in a 5’x5’ tree bed (pictured to the left) only lives on average 12 years, and never reaches maturity.

However, looking at 14th St, California St, and our suburban areas it is clear that the key to tree success is giving them space to grow. It’s simple – more growing space means bigger trees. The Urban Forest Initiative supports enlarging existing tree beds, installing new tree beds, installing protective infrastructure, and utilizing innovative approaches to protect the trees in the right-of-way through a robust grant program.

To date, we have awarded grants to 28 downtown properties to enlarge existing tree infrastructure and install new high quality tree planting areas. This is a unique opportunity to leverage dollars for the greatest impact, since the investment costs of the tree infrastructure improvements are shared between property owners as well as both public and private entities. Learn more below!

Urban Forest Initiative Grant Program

The Urban Forest Initiative is providing funding for 500 tree infrastructure improvements in Downtown Denver. The cost of the improvements is shared between the grant recipient and the property entity. Projects that require higher volumes of growing space and/or protective elements are eligible for higher award amounts. Property owners can also apply for a ‘micro-grant’ for design services, or if design services have already been rendered, they can submit the project description for review by the Urban Forest Initiative Taskforce.

Investing in our downtown tree canopy provides direct value to everyone – increased property values, increased public safety, higher revenue streams for businesses, and most importantly, amplified enjoyment by visitors, employees, and residents experiencing our downtown each day! Although the new infrastructure can be expensive, these state-of-the art designs ensure a much higher probability of survival. In many cases, this upfront cost will be offset overtime by forgoing yearly tree replacement, year-round hand watering, and annual system repairs costs.

See locations where trees are getting an upgrade below.

Pictured on the left: Tree beds retrofitted through the Urban Forest Initiative.

Apply For A Grant

Cultivate the Culture

The more you know, the more the trees grow. The Urban Forest Initiative encourages community involvement by informing citizens about the economic, ecological, environmental, and human benefits of a robust urban forest. Individuals have the power to make a difference.

Read more about the importance of trees in our center city: 10 Reasons Why Trees Matter to Downtown Denver.

Keep scrolling to see our story map below, or click here to view the Spanish version.


The value added to a property with healthy, mature trees
Businesses on treescaped streets show 12% higher income streams
Children have a 11-19% lower prevalence of obesity compared to those with limited access to green spaces

Maintain the Forest

Maintenance is crucial to support downtown’s tree canopy. The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District has taken on a stewardship role for our urban forest through the facilitation of the the Tree Health Program. The Tree Health Program provides tree care services for commercial property owners in Downtown Denver, totaling 1,850 trees. This program relieves property owners of the burden of tree care, while supporting a healthy tree canopy through a centralized care system.

Although building the infrastructure to support our tree canopy is an expensive feat, the year over year maintenance cost is nominal – about $150 per tree per year. For $150 a year per tree, our trees are protected from pests, insects, and diseases, receive yearly fertilization and organic soil enhancements to provide oxygen and nutrients, and have their structure maintained to reduce risk of branch failure.

All commercial properties within the Downtown Denver BID are automatically enrolled in this program. Non-commercial properties can request a quote for services by contacting Amanda Miller, Senior Specialist, Downtown Environment.

Trees are Cared for by the Tree Health Program

Join the Urban Forest Initiative!

We invite the community to be stewards of our beloved trees, volunteer to build the canopy, and/or contribute financially for increased infrastructure and maintenance services.

To contribute towards our goal of $1,000,000 of philanthropic donations, donate here.

Learn more about the Urban Forest Initiative

Feb 4th 2021

Winter Tips for Your Trees

Although trees are dormant during the winter, they don’t hibernate in the traditional...