Tree Project Initiatives

IES is working to implement strategic tree planting programs throughout the Metro Denver region and educate Coloradans about the importance of strategic tree selection and planting in our changing environment.

Current Initiatives:

2018-19 IES Sheridan Quincy Trail Project

The IES Tree Project is happy to announce the fourth year of the Sheridan Quincy Project. During the fall of 2018, students from Fort Logan Northgate School will complete two workshops, a community space building event, and a school-year long maintenance program. IES will again partner with the City of Sheridan, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, and Sheridan School District No. 2 to plan and implement the project. The project will improve both the western end of the Quincy Trail and the school property just north of the trail. Improvements will include boulders, trail logs, and new plantings of native shrubs and grasses in a rain garden and planters. You can read the Project Prospectus here.

2018 IES Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Restoration and Environmental Education Network (GREEN)

IES is excited to announce the third and final year of the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Restoration and Environmental Education Network. During the spring of 2018, the Tree Project will partner with Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation Department and Kullerstrand Elementary School to provide hands-on science education and planting opportunities for students in Wheat Ridge. Plantings will include 144 plants along the trail section between the Kipling and Moore Street entrances and at least 20 plants to replace plants at the 2016 GREEN site. GREEN planting sites will be cared for by IES Tree Stewards and Wheat Ridge Tree Ambassadors. Tree Ambassadors are Wheat Ridge Summer Sun Campers that walk over to the planting sites twice a week throughout the summer and participate in naturalist education activities provided by Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation District. This project marks the seventh partnership between IES and Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation, and the fourth partnership between IES and Kullesrtrand Elementary School.

You can read the 2018 GREEN Project Prospectus here.

2017-2018 IES Sheridan Quincy Trail Project

IES will continue its community improvement project in Sheridan, Colorado starting in the fall of 2017. The Tree Project will partner with the City of Sheridan, Sheridan School District No. 2, Fort Logan Northgate 3-8 School, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and Xcel Energy for the third year of this project. Students will work with ES and community leaders to learn about leadership in their community through multiple in-class workshops, a fall planting day, a spring community space event, and a weekly maintenance program at the Sheridan planting sites. New plantings along the trail will include over 140 native shrubs and 8,000 square feet of native grass and flower seeds. During the spring of 2018, project stakeholders will lead students through the first year of community space planning and implementation. Students will help guide a plan for an interactive space on school property just north of the Quincy trail near the trees planted during the first year of the Sheridan Quincy Project. The community space installation will include benches, rock gardens, and a new shade trees. Look for project updates on the IES website, social media platforms, and quarterly newsletters.

2016-2017 IES Sheridan Quincy Trail Project

IES is excited to collaborate with stakeholders in Sheridan, Colorado for the second year with the 2016-2017 IES Sheridan Quincy Trail Project. Project partners include the City of Sheridan, Sheridan School District No. 2, Fort Logan Northgate 3-8 School (FLN), South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and Xcel Energy. Leadership students at FLN learned about community management and environmental stewardship through workshops, a planting day, and plant care. Students helped plan and implement the workshops, planting day, and tree care events. The classroom workshops took place in fall 2016, where students learned about community leadership and the value of beautification to improve community spaces. In October 2016, students worked hard to plant 120 native shrubs and 16,000 square feet of native grass and flower seeds along the Quincy Trail. They returned to the site every week through the fall to care for the new plants with mulching and watering.   IES will unveil a project banner along the trail this spring with the students. Watch for project updates on the IES website or on IES social media, as well as news about the 2017-2018 Sheridan Quincy Trail Project.

2017 IES Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Restoration and Environmental Education Network (GREEN)

The 2017 IES Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Restoration and Environmental Education Network (GREEN) will mark the sixth year of IES projects along Clear Creek in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. IES will work with students from Kullerstrand Elementary School for the third year. Students will learn about local ecology during two hands-on workshops and participate in two living laboratory planting days complete with a guided nature walk and other activities to bring classroom science lessons to life. The planting site this spring will be located adjacent to the Greenbelt entrance and parking lot just north 41st Avenue and west of Kipling Street. GREEN project partners are the City of Wheat Ridge, Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation Department, Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, Kullerstrand Elementary, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. IES will post project updates on the IES website, on IES social media, and in kiosks throughout the Greenbelt.

Check out the 2017 GREEN Project Prospectus for more information.

Past Initiatives:

2015-2016 IES Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Restoration and Environmental Education Network (GREEN)

The Greenbelt Restoration and Environmental Education Network (GREEN) introduced at-risk and seriously emotionally disabled (SED) students in Kullerstrand Elementary School’s TRAILS (Teaching Responsibility and Independence with Learning Supports) program to their natural environment through hands-on science education.

The Kullerstrand TRAILS program works with at-risk students to provide behavioral, emotional, social, and academic support. GREEN used the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt as a tool to enrich the science curriculum and socialization for these students through a series of classroom workshops and a planting day. Students positively changed their environment, planting native trees, shrubs and grasses, and removing invasive species to improve the Greenbelt’s ecosystem, native species habitats, and the Clear Creek watershed.

GREEN is a replicable program that was based on three successful IES ecological education and improvement projects in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. GREEN will be a multi-year partnership with Kullerstrand Elementary School. IES and Kullerstrand will collaborate with the City of Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation Department (WRPR) to support planting and tree care on a yearly basis. Project partners included Kullerstrand Elementary School, WRPR, and University of Colorado – Denver Master in Urban and Regional Planning student Andrew Rasmussen who designed the planting plan. Funding for the program was provided by the First Unitarian Church of Denver.

2015-2016 IES Sheridan Quincy Tree Project

After four years of successful tree plantings in Colorado’s front-range communities, IES sought to become involved with a new community in need of sound scientific planning and environmental improvement through tree plantings. IES partnered with the City of Sheridan to help the city improve the Sheridan Quincy Trail.

Soon after, IES partnered with Sheridan School District No. 2 and Fort Logan 3-8 School to involve students and further community outreach to involve all interested community partners in the Sheridan community. IES also partnered with South Suburban Parks and Recreation and DesignWorkshop to ensure all project planning was approved and site specific. The project was initially designed to improve the Quincy Trail, but because of planting restrictions, the project was moved on to school property.

The Sheridan Quincy Tree Project (SQT) was based on previous successful IES education and environmental education projects in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, including the award winning Preserve the Greenbelt Elementary Education Program. SQT included four classroom and on-site workshops and an educational planting day. It was designed to teach students from Fort Logan Northgate 3-8 School’s Leadership Class lessons in science, community project design, and community leadership.

Students actively participated in lessons where they helped design key elements of the project, including planning the planting day, planning a stewardship program, and helping name the project. Thanks to the flexibility and support of project stakeholders, the students were able to see their plan come to life. Students planted 60 native trees on a neglected part of the Sheridan Athletic Complex in October 2015.

2014-2015 IES Wheat Ridge Growing the Greenbelt

The Growing the Greenbelt Program was a community supported program that improved the health of the Greenbelt while engaging community members and students in environmental stewardship and science education. The program built on the award winning Preserve the Greenbelt program.

The program taught students at Wheat Ridge High School students to care for their local environment while providing critical improvements to the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. Students enrolled in the Wheat Ridge High School Career Exploration Class were introduced to careers in earth science, urban forestry, and open space management. Students and community volunteers planted over 140 trees, shrubs, and grasses in addition to removing invasive species during two planting days.

IES partnered with the City of Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation Department, Wheat Ridge High School, Abner’s Garden Center, and DesignWorkshop to design and implement the program. The program was made possible thanks to generous contributions from the Colorado Tree Coalition, the City of Wheat Ridge City Council, Wheat Ridge City Councilman Jerry DiTullio, Wheat Ridge Mayor Joyce Jay, Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff, and Wheat Ridge City Attorney Gerald Dahl, and InfinitusPIE.

Check out the video below for more information!

2013-2014 IES Wheat Ridge Preserve the Greenbelt

The Preserve the Greenbelt Elementary Education Program was developed to protect and improve the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt by implementing a sustainable volunteer tree stewardship program intended to educate and engage students, educators, and families. IES developed three in-class and hands-on educational workshops that introduced the students to ecosystems, tree science, tree care, and their local urban forests. The planting program was intended to improve the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt through the planting of native trees and shrubs. More than 120 students participated in the workshops and the planting day resulting in over 200 new native trees and shrubs being planted.

Many community members and organizations worked with IES to facilitate a successful project. IES Tree Stewards from past projects donated their time and knowledge to the project. Kullerstrand Elementary School, Mountain Phoenix Community School, and Wheat Ridge High School participated in project planning, educational workshops, and planting events. The City of Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation Department supported the project generously with a variety of resources. The Colorado State Forest Service and Keith Wood provided tree-related learning materials for the workshops and planting day. Xcel Energy provided a major grant to IES to support this project in response to IES’s application submitted in April 2013. Wells Fargo provided a small cash grant in response to IES’s June 2013 application.

IES is proud to have received the 2014 CAEE Nonprofit Award for Excellence for the Preserve the Greenbelt Program!

Please see the video below for more information on the award winning program!

2012-2013 IES Wheat Ridge Revive the Greenbelt!

Wheat Ridge Revive the Greenbelt! was a community forestry project that used strategic tree selection, planting, and maintenance to restore and revitalize the Clear Creek waterway corridor in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. The project site, located just south of Prospect Park, faces multiple environmental challenges including invasive species, degraded waterways, canopy loss from a 2009 hailstorm, low tree transplant survival, and threatened habitat of the native Ute Ladies’-Tresses Orchid species. In spring 2013, the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES), City of Wheat Ridge, and our project partners will strategically plant new trees along the riverbank to improve the environment while optimizing the many benefits of trees. This tree planting will restore plant and wildlife habitats, welcoming birds, fish, and other wildlife under these canopies. These trees will also help Wheat Ridge manage stormwater and pollution, restore degraded riverbanks, and increase the beauty of the Greenbelt.

Project Partners and Sponsors

Institute for Environmental Solutions
City of Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation
Xcel Energy
Colorado State Forest Service
Urban Waters Federal Partnership
Wells Fargo

The Site

The project site is located in the heart of the City of Wheat Ridge in a popular recreation area along the banks of Clear Creek, a major tributary to the South Platte River. It is in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Conservation Area (WRGCA) and can be accessed by the public from the Prospect Park parking area south of Prospect Lake and northwest of Prospect Bridge, which crosses Clear Creek and connects to a trail system in the WRGCA.

2012 Trees for Healthy Community and Economy, Broomfield

Trees for a Healthy Community and Economy is a unique urban forestry project that seeks to improve environmental health and economic development opportunities within the City and County of Broomfield’s expanding city center.  IES developed a strategic landscape plan with economic and environmental improvement targets that will contribute to commercial growth, strengthen the community, and create a healthier environment.

The Institute for Environmental Solutions thanks our generous sponsors and project partners:

City and County of Broomfield
Xcel Energy
North Metro Fire Rescue District
Colorado State Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Tire and Auto
Green Energy Man, Inc.
Western Disposal
Broomfield Community Foundation

The Challenge

The City and County of Broomfield identified a portion of the emerging civic center area, located between the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Library parking lot and the North Metro Fire Administration Building, as having critical need and high potential for significant development. This project capitalized on the proposed development of the civic center by using strategic urban forestry to cost-effectively create a natural environment that will promote social interaction, attract consumers to future businesses, and improve environmental and human health.

The site surrounds the recently expanded parking area between these two buildings, which helped to establish one of IES’s key environmental objectives: increase shade in the parking lot to reduce urban heat island effect.  IES and the Project Advisory Committee identified other key environmental objectives including: improve air quality, improve stormwater management, use solar-powered irrigation, reduce noise pollution from 1st Avenue and Main Street, and plant a diversity of tree species that are long-lived, hardy, drought tolerant, low VOC emitting, and suitable to Colorado’s environment.  The project design’s social objectives were to create a natural environment that promotes social interaction, lingering, walkability, and to provide an urban forest for future generations.

IES Creates Sustainable Solutions

IES implemented this project through collaboration with City and County of Broomfield, local businesses, and community organizations.  IES used its expertise and guidelines from the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) to develop a strategic landscape plan to attract more people to Broomfield’s emerging city center and improve environmental and economic health.

The landscape design’s economic objective was simple but challenging: to improve the local economy using trees. To meet this objective, IES first aligned the strategic planting design with the Master Plan for Broomfield’s emerging civic center.  By implementing this tree planting now, trees will have an opportunity to become established and will have a more immediate impact, when business development occurs.

In addition to meeting stakeholder objectives, IES’s planting design incorporated SITES criteria into both the design process and the final planting plan.  The guiding principles of SITES aligned with IES’s mission and goals for strategic tree planting; including sequestering carbon, cleaning air and water, increasing energy efficiency, restoring habitats and ultimately giving back through significant economic, social and environmental benefits.

Planting Day

On April 14, 2012, over 65 Broomfield community members volunteered for IES’s Trees for a Healthy Community and Economyproject to plant 44 trees in the city’s emerging civic center.

Trees Make Cents!

Did you know that trees are good for business?  The benefits of urban trees are as numerous and far-reaching as their roots, and these benefits grow over time.  Strategically planted and properly maintained, trees can generate returns up to three times their planting and maintenance costs.  Trees contribute to commercial growth, stronger communities, and a healthy environment.  Not only do trees mean business, they make sense.

As part of the Trees for a Healthy Community and Economy project, IES conducted a community survey to learn more about the economic benefits of urban forests.  The goal of this survey was to measure the economic impact urban forestry will have on Broomfield’s emerging downtown center by identifying place perception (how consumers identify with the surrounding business area), how trees can affect the aesthetic quality of a shopping area, consumer behavior, and product pricing.

The results of this study largely align with previous research that indicates consumers are willing to travel farther, more frequently and are willing to pay more for products and services found in business areas that are tree-lined. While respondents in our survey were not overwhelmingly willing to pay for parking, they were clearly willing to pay a substantial amount more for some products. This result indicates that business owners may be able to offset the cost of maintenance for trees with increased consumer spending. From a business perspective, the return on investment in trees could be worth supporting increased urban forestry.

To learn more about the Trees for a Healthy Community and Economy project and economic evaluation, download our final report here.

2011 Trees for Healthy Kids and Community, Mitchell Elementary, Golden

Trees for Healthy Kids and Community is a pilot project at Mitchell Elementary in Golden, Colorado.  The goal of the project is to ensure lasting replicable, positive change in environmental health at Mitchell.  Through strategic tree selection and planting, IES was able to improve conditions at Mitchell Elementary and help the school develop an educational curriculum focused on the benefits of trees.

The Institute for Environmental Solutions thanks our generous sponsors and project partners:

Mitchell Elementary School
Xcel Energy
Jefferson County Schools
City of Golden
Confluent Design

The Challenge

Mitchell faces multiple environmental challenges due to its proximity to Colorado Highway 93. Without a physical barrier between the school and highway, Mitchell’s campus was fully exposed to particulate and gaseous airborne pollutants from the highway, noise pollution from the highway, and wind. Concerns about the potential impact on students’ health and the environment were a key motivator in the Mitchell administration and PTA’s decision to seek environmental and human health improvements. In establishing a vegetative barrier between

Mitchell’s campus and Highway 93, the IES Trees for Healthy Kids and Community project addressed the school’s environmental and human health concerns while optimizing the environmental benefits of trees.

IES Creates Sustainable Solutions

Prior to developing a landscape plan, IES conducted an environmental analysis of the planting site to identify environmental concerns and improvement targets. The purpose of the Mitchell Environmental Analysis was to assess indicators of environmental quality and evaluate the effectiveness of strategic tree selection and planting as an approach to improving environmental health at Mitchell. In response to the environmental analysis, the Mitchell Project Advisory Committee determined specific objectives and priorities for a comprehensive short and long-term planting plan.

Priorities included reducing highway noise, mitigating air pollution from Highway 93, reducing the impact of wind, managing stormwater, and providing educational opportunities for the students. The Phase One landscape design focused on using strategic tree selection and placement along the school’s northern and western fence lines to create a vegetative buffer between Highway 93 and Mitchell. The long-term landscape plan will transform the entire Mitchell campus into an educational, natural playground that offers additional opportunities for tree planting, vegetative management, outdoor learning areas, and environmental improvement.

Planting Day

On May 1, 2011 over 50 community volunteers gathered to plant 40 trees on the Mitchell campus, completing the first phase of Trees for Healthy Kids and Community. The day involved opening ceremonies, “How to Plant a Tree” demonstrations, volunteer tree-planting, environmental educational tables and a group volunteer lunch sponsored by the PTA.