Elaine Clegg City of Trees Challenge Partners Celebrate Planting 235,000 Forest Seedlings

June 12, 2024

Trees play a critical role in our environment and provide important clean air, water and community cooling benefits that combat the negative effects of climate change. The Elaine Clegg City of Trees Challenge launched in 2020 with those benefits in mind, and already the initiative’s roots run deep in Boise and beyond.

One of the ambitious goals set by founding partners the City of Boise, led by former Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg, and the Treasure Valley Canopy Network was to plant 235,000 forest seedlings – approximately one seedling for every Boise resident – in areas outside city limits. We are pleased to announce that team members officially planted the 235,000th seedling this spring, six years ahead of schedule.

“This is an incredible accomplishment, and it is a testament to the dedication of our multi-agency team,” said Treasure Valley Canopy Network Executive Director Lance Davisson. “We are grateful for the support of Mayor Lauren McLean and the Boise City Council as we continue to grow Boise’s green economy and provide Boise residents with opportunities to take climate action close to home.”

Partnerships with The Nature Conservancy in Idaho (TNC), the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service helped make this goal attainable. TNC was the lead partner on the seedling planting effort and assisted in finding donors for the project. Ultimately the seedlings and planting efforts were made possible by a combination of private donor and Arbor Day Foundation funding. The U.S. Forest Service was the recipient of the funding and administered the planting of the trees.

“These seedlings will support improved soil stability, forest health and wildlife habitat in the forest," said Mark Menlove, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Idaho. "Planting trees has also been identified as a natural climate solution to reduce greenhouse gases and to help our communities adapt to a changing climate. The challenge is a great example of how in working with both our urban and rural partners, we can make a significant impact together."

In May, a group of project partners and supporters had the opportunity to tour the Lucky Peak Nursery and see how forest seedlings are nurtured before being planted in restoration areas throughout the West. Attendees then traveled to the Pioneer Fire burn scar north of Idaho City to plant the final 200 ponderosa pine seedlings to meet the challenge’s goal.

“This is just the beginning of the important work the Elaine Clegg City of Trees Challenge is spearheading in Boise and across the Treasure Valley,” added Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “We are not afraid of tackling tough challenges to reach the city’s climate goals and look forward to working in tandem with all partners to continue planting trees where shade is most needed in our community.”

The partnership presented a plaque made from a recycled black walnut tree to Mayor Lauren McLean and the Boise City Council to mark the achievement at the Tuesday, June 11, 2024, council work session. Click here to visit the City of Boise’s Public Meeting YouTube page to watch a recording of the presentation (it starts about 11 minutes into the recording).

For more information on the Elaine Clegg City of Trees Challenge and to view estimated annual environmental benefits of the initiative’s tree plantings, visit the challenge webpage.

Contact: Parks and Recreation Media Relations

(208) 608-7600 | bpr@cityofboise.org

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