Cultivating the Urban Forest and Social Wellness through Rooted in Cheyenne

Photo Credit: Rooted in Cheyenne

Cultivating the Urban Forest and Social Wellness through Rooted in Cheyenne

Guest post from Wyoming State Forestry Division in coordination with the Western Urban and Community Forestry Network's #HealthyTreesHealthyLives social media campaign. Explore the hashtag #HealthyTreesHealthyLives on social media to learn more. 

Cheyenne, WY (pop. 63,000) has always been a progressive city in its efforts to increase the tree canopy. As early as 1882, residents played an important role in establishing the tree canopy that we enjoy today. However, Cheyenne is experiencing a high mortality rate in its street tree population as the result of an aging forest. In addition, citizens are not adequately replacing dead trees which results in large gaps in the tree canopy. The need for a formal community tree planting program in Cheyenne was critical to supporting a more diverse and resilient urban forest canopy and cultivating greener, healthier, more livable neighborhoods.

In early 2017, the City of Cheyenne received a grant from Wyoming State Forestry Division to form a long-term street tree planting program and formed Rooted in Cheyenne. Rooted in Cheyenne is now designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit which works in partnership with the Cheyenne Urban Forestry Division, and led by a volunteer Board of Directors, dedicated to improving Cheyenne’s urban forest.

In just two years, over $50,000 of additional funding from businesses, civic groups, grants and individuals has resulted in the planting of over 350 street trees by hundreds of volunteers. During both the spring and fall events, public right-of-way trees are planted by teams of volunteers led by professional landscapers and arborists. Homeowners pay a portion of the costs for the trees which includes planting and watering for the first year. Several varieties of species are planted to insure a more diverse and healthier urban forest.

Various green industry businesses have donated staff time and equipment which has resulted in learning opportunities and unique partnerships among private, public and nonprofit sectors of the community. In addition to green industry employees, volunteers have included city council members, high school organizations, the local conservation district, and the general public. The planting days have become a large community social event which has engaged homeowners in fostering greener and healthier neighborhoods.

Through social media (https://www.facebook.com/rootedincheyenne/), their web page https://rootedincheyenne.com/, and regular special events Rooted in Cheyenne is encouraging citizens to learn more about the role that trees and a healthy urban forest play in their own overall health and the social well-being of their community. The overwhelming success of Rooted in Cheyenne has captured the interest of several other cities who are now actively establishing similar programs.

For more information, contact Mark Hughes, Community Forestry Coordinator, Wyoming State Forestry Division at mark.hughes@wyo.gov or (307) 777-5478.  

Photo Credit Right: Rooted in Cheyenne