Tree Canopy in Boise’s North End
By Chelsea Chambers
Photos Emma Thompson
It’s the early 1900s. Boise slowly begins to spread its wings and stretch out of its mining roots. The allure of the Gold Rush lay the foundation for what is now our beautiful and bustling City of Trees.
An oasis in the high desert, the Boise River gave life to a variety of trees, making Boise stand out against the surrounding sagebrush. Early settlers saw Boise’s tree-lined potential and helped shape the budding city.
The North End—Boise’s most densely treed neighborhood—was once just groves of maples and other trees. Before the boom of Harrison Boulevard, before the unique architecture and beautiful landscaping. In fact, the trees were planted long before the homes were built. Which is one of the reasons that the North End Neighborhood Association (NENA) jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Boise’s Community Forestry Plan.
The plan encompasses the city’s overall goal for urban forestry maintenance and involves each neighborhood and city center—bringing them all into the fold over time. For now, the North End is the first neighborhood association to be involved in the plan, partially due to their personal forestry goals.
“Our main objectives are to increase tree density and diversity, while safely preserving the trees we have,” said Mark Baltes, President of NENA.
By working closely with the City of Boise and establishing a partnership with the Treasure Valley Canopy Network (TVCN), NENA will have a better chance of caring for and maintaining their vast network of trees.
“This plan definitely has its challenges,” remarks Lance Davisson of TVCN. “Things like tree age, water consumption, and open space needs each play a role in the Community Forestry Plan. But our partnerships with community groups like NENA can help get things going. Our goals are to collaborate, innovate, and create a sustainable network of urban forestry throughout Boise.”
There is currently 16% tree coverage in Boise, and it is the City’s goal to have 20% by 2025 and increase tree density on both private and public lands.
“You have to think before you plant. We are in a unique landscape,” explained Mike Andrews, Assistant Forester for the City of Boise. “It’s often best to plant trees that can withstand the high desert. And that’s where education comes in.”
NENA has hired their first ever ‘Tree Czar,’ Julia Grant, who will help to educate the public on proper urban forestry practices and share the idea of tree sustainability and historic preservation in the North End and beyond.
“Our tree canopy is a defining characteristic of the North End. It is something to protect, preserve, and grow,” said Mark.
As the City of Boise, TVCN, and NENA continue to pave the way for the future of Boise’s urban forestry, they would each like to encourage us all to plant smart and get involved.
To learn more about TVCN, visit tvcanopy.net. And check out the North End Neighborhood Association at www.northendboise.org.