Urban Forestry

Salt Lake City plants and maintains trees to improve air and water quality, save energy, provide shade, buffer noises, enhance habitat, create more pleasant sidewalks, foster public health and improve economic sustainability.

2015 Goals

  • Plant new trees, while maintaining and protecting existing trees.
  • Support a diversity of tree species and ages to protect watersheds, soil, air quality and habitat.
  • Consider future climate impacts in selecting tree species and locations.


  • Complete City tree inventory.

  • Vulnerability rating of each city tree based on size, age, condition, location, species and future climate impacts.

  • Fully updated codes to protect the urban forest.

  • Permeable pavement test sites to assess the benefits to area trees.

  • Arbor Day tree planting initiative to encourage residents to plant appropriate trees in beneficial locations.

  • Number of trees in urban forest.

  • Diversity of trees in urban forest.

  • In conjunction with Sanitation, determine the best market for green waste (compost, city use, vendor).

  • Posters and handouts for contractors and residents on requirement to call forestry office before digging within drip-line to protect trees during construction.

  • Web-based application for customer notification of tree spraying that estimates time of arrival of spray crew at customer’s location and identifies time of day service was provided.

Starting Point

  • Current data outdated and incomplete.

  • Initial data collection starting Aug. 2012.

  • Some ordinances in review.

  • One site in existence in 2011 (Wasatch Touring).

  • No program in place in 2011.

  • Net loss of trees in 2010-11.

  • New species being recommended.

  • City grinds tree waste for mulch or pays to have wood processed and hauled away.

  • No materials exist in 2011.

  • No application in 2011.

2015 Target

  • Inventory updated through GIS and physical inventories by 2015.

  • Refine with updated inventory information by 2015.

  • Complete ordinance review in 2013; adopt and implement in 2014.

  • Three test sites constructed and evaluated. Policy adopted addressing benefits of permeable pavement as it applies to trees.

  • Design program in 2012, Implement in 2013.

  • Increase number of trees by 2%/year.

  • Use updated tree inventory to increase variety of trees recommended by 2015. Long-term goal: no single species represents >6% of tree population by 2023.

  • Green waste recovered in most sustainable manner, and appropriate revenue recovered.

  • Update and provide to citizens.

  • Completed by 2014.

Current Status

  • Phase I of a five phase project to update the City's public property tree inventory and develop a Comprehensive Urban Forestry Management Plan was funded and completed in 2013. And the City now has updated inventory information on approximately 28,000 public property trees. If funding continues at current levels the inventory will be complete in 2018.

  • Project is complete, with a comprehensive GIS map available online.

  • The new Tree Protection Ordinance was adopted in 2014 and implementation is ongoing.

  • Project is currently on hold.

  • Urban Forestry Program will be developing new brochures and updating the Forestry website to better promote the benefits of planting trees.

  • With the help of Capital Improvement Project funding the City was able to plant significantly more trees that it removed in 2013-2014, and is on track to continue to plant more trees than are removed in 2014-2015.

  • The Urban Forestry Program is regularly evaluating the species composition of our public forest, and selects trees for planting that will enhance tree species diversity. An updated 'Recommended Tree List' is in the works.

  • The City's Urban Forestry Program now sells the vast majority of its wood waste to a company that recycles it into high quality mulch. The program also provides some wood chips (free of charge) to community food gardens and is now also selling some of the higher quality logs (resulting from removal of public property trees) to a wood crafter. In the summer of 2014, the Urban Forestry program also rented a soil sifter to sort a significant amount of high quality soil from large piles of landscape waste.

  • The Urban Forestry Program has begun to compile subject matter for an extensive collection of education and outreach materials that will serve to enlighten and inspire city residents and contractors to partner in the ongoing efforts to maximize the benefits that the Urban Forest provides.

  • The Urban Forestry Program has moved away from tree spraying in favor of direct trunk injection (to combat insect and disease problems) in public property trees. This method is much preferred as the chemicals being used go directly into the trees' vascular system, therefore no chemicals are introduced to the environment directly surrounding the tree. In the event that some type of tree spray is necessary in the future, the Urban Forestry Program will utilize social media and community outreach to notify residents in near proximity to the spraying.