Center for Urban Forest Research

United States
Department of
Pacific Southwest
Research Station
Center for Urban Forest Research
One Shields Ave. 1103, UC Davis
5Davis, California 95616
Phone (530) 752-7636
USDA Forest Service
Contact: Paula Peper 530-752-5867
Jim Geiger, 530-752-6834
Trees in Cheyenne are a Wise Investment
Cheyenne, WY, September 29, 2004 – Cheyenne’s harsh winters and high winds pose
a constant threat to the health and safety of the city’s 17,000 public trees and the
thousands more private trees. Having only 12 trees by 1876, the residents of Cheyenne
have figured out how to establish an entire urban forest on the harsh alkaline soils of the
northern Great Plains, called one of the harshest growing climates in the United States.
Last month the USDA Forest Service’s Center for Urban Forest Research
completed an analysis of this municipal tree resource to see if the benefits that the
public trees produce really justify the annual expenditures. According to Dr.
McPherson, Center Director, “The citizens of Cheyenne can rest assured that their trees
are vastly improving their quality of life and that the money they are spending annually
is a wise investment of municipal dollars. We found that for every dollar spent on
Cheyenne’s public trees the residents receive $2.09 worth of benefits. These benefits
include energy savings for heating and cooling homes, improved health through better
air quality, enhanced control of stormwater runoff, and higher property values.
Continued investment in management of these trees is critical to insuring that residents
Caring for the Land and Serving People
receive a greater return on their investment in the future.”
The report points out that because of Cheyenne’s severe climate conditions,
annual energy savings from trees are quite high - $187,000 ($11/tree) per year. These
same trees also remove 664 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, offsetting an
additional 1,120 tons through reductions in power plant emissions, and intercepting 2.3
tons of particulates and other pollutants. This cleaner air is valued at over $40,000 per
year. Additionally, Cheyenne’s municipal trees intercept nearly 800,000 cubic feet of
rain every year, thereby avoiding stormwater runoff. This has a value of $55,000 per
“One benefit residents can actually feel in the pocketbook is the increase in
property value”, said Dr. McPherson. “This is the largest benefit to Cheyenne residents
and amounts to over $400,000 per year. The sales price of a home increases by about
1% for every mature tree. Cut back on the care and maintenance of City trees and
residents will ultimately experience a pinch in their wallets.”
The municipal trees in Cheyenne are a very valuable asset, providing $686,000
($40/tree) in total annual benefits to the community. The city spends about $19/tree on
their care. “Now is not the time to question the expenditure of funds for your Urban
Forest program, says Dr. McPherson. “In fact it is a time to celebrate what has been
accomplished in this severe climate and embrace the benefits these trees are providing.
This urban forest is quite a tribute to the Urban Forest Division and they should be
commended for their ability to manage this asset. They are faced with a fragile
resource that needs constant care to maximize and sustain these benefits through the
foreseeable future. In a city where the climate poses a constant challenge to tree growth
and health, this is no easy task. The challenge will be to maximize net benefits from
available growing space over the long-term, providing a resource that is both functional
and sustainable.
Because of recent efforts of staff the city has a highly regarded tree program and
has received recognition as a Tree City USA for 22 years, as well as 7 Growth Awards
and 2 Merit Awards from the National Arbor Day Foundation. Additionally, the program
received international recognition, earning a Gold Leaf Award from the International
Society of Arboriculture.
The City’s Urban Forestry Division employs 8 full time staff to manage and
maintain municipal trees. The city is responsible for the management and maintenance
of trees and all other woody vegetation on all public properties including parks, golf
courses, cemeteries, medians, triangles, islands, and other city maintained public lands.
Although tree maintenance on the street right-of-way (ROW) is the responsibility of each
homeowner or business, residents are required to consult with the City Forester before
any tree trimming, planting, or removal is conducted. Additionally, the Division provides
education programs and other information for citizens, conducts tree inspections on
residential lots, tests, licenses and regulates commercial arborists and pesticide
applicators within the city, and provides planning and planting advice for new tree
installations. The Urban Forestry Division also provides citizens with a wealth of
information on Cheyenne trees, tree care, ordinances, and current issues affecting the
urban forest on a well-managed website (