Denver uses street art to highlight city’s urban forest

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DENVER — The city of Denver is using street art to highlight the importance of maintaining and expanding its urban forest.

According to the Downtown Denver Area Plan, there are 9,843 trees in the city’s downtown corridor.

“We are estimating that the urban canopy, the tree canopy — the coverage of the trees that covers the ground and creates shade — is about 4% right now in downtown Denver. We want to grow that to 10%,” explained Scott Gilmore, the Deputy Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation.

Along with the Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver Parks and Recreation teamed up with Pat Milbery, a local artist, to create a temporary urban campus. The campus features a trail of street art that will showcase the importance of downtown Denver’s green infrastructure, Gilmore said.

“These stencils we’re doing on the street will actually lead people from the Ellie Caulkins [Opera House] and the DCPA (Denver Center for Performing Arts) to their hotels, Civic Center Park [and other areas around Denver],” Gilmore said.

The city is creating the project ahead of the Greater & Greener Conference, which takes place in Denver this weekend. 

The conference is held once every two years in large cities across the country. About 1,000 people from around the world will be in attendance to learn about Denver’s park system.

“And learn the things we do to make our parks and recreation system one of the best in the world,” Gilmore said.

For Milbery, the temporary urban campus is an opportunity to catch onlookers’ attention.

“With so much growth here in the city, I think it’s important to think about what the next steps are,” Milbery said.

The city of Denver isn’t sure how long it will take to reach its 10% goal, but Gilmore said his department is dedicated to accomplishing it.

“It’s the right thing to do to make sure that our urban forest canopy in downtown is healthy and will be around for decades to come,” Gilmore added.

You can see the temporary urban campus on the sidewalk area around 14th and Curtis streets across from the Denver Center for Performing Arts.

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