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Forestry (Trees)

Be a Smart Ash campaign logo

The Denver Parks & Recreation Forestry Office is the City agency responsible for trees in public parks, parkways and other public property. Denver’s street trees are under regulation of the City Forester, but their maintenance is a responsibility shared by adjacent property owners. 

Permits are required prior to the removal or planting of any street trees. Permits can be requested by sending an email to, with a description of the work to be done. To help speed up the permit process, get the street tree’s site ID # from Denver’s interactive street tree inventory and include it with your permit request.

Property owners are responsible for*:

  • Cleanup of debris from trees on private property and from trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.
    • Limbs on the ground are considered debris. Property owners can hire any licensed company to haul limbs away- for this type of work, the company does NOT have to be a licensed tree contractor.
  • Pruning needs of private property trees and trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.  

For general questions about the condition of a public-right-of way tree, please contact Denver Forestry at

*If you live on a designated Parkway, the Office of the City Forester will provide the necessary tree work for trees in the public right-of-way along the parkway but NOT on perpendicular streets. Adjacent property owners are not responsible for public right-of-way trees on the parkway but would need to address trees on other streets if they live on a corner or have an alley.


Damaged tree and broken branches:

  • The Office of the City Forester recommends that you make sure any tree care contractor is licensed and insured- view current list.
  • Tree work can be very dangerous and you could be subject to serious injury if you attempt to perform this type of work without proper experience

Emergency tree and limb removal:

Unfortunately there are times when the safety of the public necessitates that the work be completed immediately and Denver Forestry cannot allow time for the property owner to find a licensed tree contractor.

When a tree or limb is blocking safe access to the street or right-of-way, Denver Forestry has an on-call contractor remove the limb or tree and bills the property owner for the work.

Non-Emergency tree and limb removal:

If a limb or tree is not interfering with the safe access of a street or right-of-way, the property owner may be given 24 hours to perform the work themselves or contract with a licensed tree contractor.

Should the property owner choose to allow the City to assist through an established on-call contractor, the cost of the work will be billed to the responsible property owner.

When performing any tree work yourself, always check for utility wires and assume they are live!


Tips for removing snow from trees:

  • Be aware that accumulating snow, ice, or wind could cause limbs to break and fall at any time!
  • Check to make sure the tree is safe and clear of all utility lines prior to removing snow; DO NOT attempt to shake snow off a tree if a utility line is going through its branches or is within contact distance.
  • If the tree is clear of utility lines, use a broom to remove as much snow as possible from branches by brushing off or gently shaking. Avoid large, rapid movement as this could cause the limb to break
  • DO NOT attempt to climb tree or use ladder to reach higher limbs!

Disposal and Recycling of Smaller Tree Branches

For residents managing smaller limbs on their own, Solid Waste Management provides disposal and recycling options. Learn more about options to dispose of branches and yard debris.


Large Limb Disposal
(bundles more than 4 ft. long & more than 50 lbs.)

Public Works, Solid Waste Management may provide a tree debris drop-off site for residents only.

If a debris drop-off site is not available, property owners can dispose of tree debris at a landfill or hire a contractor to remove the debris. 

The 2013 confirmation of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) within the City of Boulder introduced a new destructive tree pest to the metro-Denver urban forest that will impact hundreds of thousands of property owners across the Front Range of Colorado.

There are an estimated 330,000 ash trees in Denver making up roughly 15% of the city's urban trees. Losing these trees will have adverse economic, environmental and social impacts on our community. Over the next 15 years, EAB has the potential to destroy more of Denver’s urban forest than any other disease or pestilence in the city’s history.

As of December 31, 2015 there are no known EAB infestations outside of Boulder, however the pest has aggressively spread across all of Boulder just two years after initial discovery.

What's being done?

  • Forestry staff continue to monitor ash trees across Denver watching for signs of EAB
  • Denver has developed a 10 year plan through steering committee direction and visits to other Midwest cities to begin proactively managing the future impacts of EAB
  • A quarantine has been established around Boulder County, and it is unlawful to move ash wood outside of the quarantine area
  • In spring 2016, Denver Parks & Recreation will begin an aggressive public awareness campaign to educate property owners
  • Denver will begin preventive treatments in 2016 to protect a percentage of qualified park and public right-of-way ash trees
  • Denver will begin proactively planting park and public right-of-way trees in 2016 in an effort to offset future canopy loss
  • Property owners can view Denver's street tree inventory to get more information on the street trees next to their homes

For questions about ash trees on your property or in the adjacent right-of-way, please contact us at

After more than a decade of managing EAB in various locations in North America, it has become clear that ash trees can be well protected through proper preventive pesticide treatments. Foresters have also learned that EAB is extremely difficult to detect during the first few years of an infestation, and that it's common for newly found infestations to progress rapidly.

Denver's Office of the City Forester plans to begin treating public ash trees in 2016. Property owners need to consider the personal and monetary value of their ash trees and should consult with an arborist to determine the best course of action for treating or replacing ash trees on their property.

Additional resources:


The sudden and deep freeze of November 2014 caused significant damage to many trees in the metro area. The Denver City Forester stresses diversity in replanting. As of 2015, the top recommended shade trees for Denver's climate include:

Late September and October are generally excellent times to plant trees and many nurseries offer sales during this time of year as well.
Please remember that permits are required to remove or plant trees in the public right-of-way. Learn more | View current licensed tree contractors


volunteers planting a tree
Visit the Volunteer Page, Forestry Volunteers, for more information on DPR volunteering.

looking up at a tree's red autumn leaves

A State Champion Tree is the largest known tree of its species in the state. Rankings are based on three measurements: the circumference of the tree at 4 ½ feet, the height of the tree, and the tree’s average crown spread. Based on these measurements, each tree is given a point total to determine its state and national ranking. This scoring system has been developed by American Forests.

The Denver Champions and Notable Tree document lists each of the 126 State Champion Trees found within the City and County of Denver. In the document, the circumference has been changed to diameter and is listed in the column labeled DBH (diameter at breast height). The “T” referenced in the rank column denotes a tree that shares its status as a state champion with at least one other tree.

Thirty-two state champions are located at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and fourteen state champions and twenty-nine notable trees are located in Denver park and parkway system. Many other state champions, thirteen in all, reside at location schools and universities.

A number of the trees listed are on private property and are distinguished as such by the word private in the last column. Please respect the property owner’s right to privacy by viewing the tree from the street. Thank you very much for your cooperation. We hope you enjoy viewing these remarkable trees!

Download Denver Champions and Notable Trees information provided by the Colorado Tree Coalition.

Download the City Park Arboretum Tree Walk Map and Tree Species List.

In 2006 the Metropolitan Denver area took an ambitious step towards more sustainable development by launching the Mile High Million (MHM) Tree Initiative. The MHM goal is to plant one million trees by 2025. Thus far 250,000 trees have been planted. There is growing recognition that trees provide long-term environmental, economic, and health benefits critical to vibrant and livable cities. Read more about the Urban Forest Assessment here.

Final Report (3/2013)

Urban Forest Information by the Numbers (graphic)

Inquiry Hub Biology Project

The Inquiry Hub Biology project is a design research partnership between Denver Public Schools, Denver Parks and Recreation, the University of Colorado Boulder and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

The chief goal of the partnership is to support local science teachers in student-centered teaching. Current work includes an ecosystems unit where students investigate and build models of their urban ecosystem to answer the question, "What species of trees should we plant and where to maximize benefits to people, mitigate the impacts of human activity, and increase biodiversity in our urban ecosystem?" Throughout the unit, students develop and add to a research report that includes their proposal for planting trees that best meet the needs of Denver's urban ecosystem.

With the help of Denver Parks and Recreation, the unit culminates with students having the opportunity to plant actual trees around their school and neighborhood, trees chosen based on students' own research and proposals. Applying science in such a way provides students with an authentic, meaningful learning experience.

View photos and program details

The Denver Parks & Recreation Forestry Office is the city agency responsible for trees and shrubs in public parks, parkways and around government buildings.

Trees are an extremely valuable resource that provides attractive landscapes and much-needed shade from the high-altitude sun while cleaning the air and replenishing oxygen in the atmosphere.

By cooling homes and providing attractive landcapes, trees increase property values, create neighborhood character, improve water and air quality, and reduce temperatures through shading.

Denver is one of the only U.S. cities with a designated City Forester.Through planting promotion programs and regulation, Denver’s broad tree canopy thrives. 

Denver’s publicly owned street trees are under regulation of the City Forester, but their maintenance responsibility is shared across the city by adjacent landowners. The Office of the City Forester is responsible for:

  • The direct maintenance of public trees within parks and designated parkways
  • Oversight of privately maintained trees per (Municipal Code, Chapter 57)  and taking actions to improve the overall quality of Denver’s urban tree canopy

It is important to remember that permits are required prior to the removal or planting of any street trees. You may request a permit by sending an email to, including a description of the work to be done.

Metro Denver Urban Forest Assessment

In 2006 the City of Denver took an ambitious step towards more sustainable development by launching the Mile High Million(MHM) Tree Initiative. The MHM goal is to plant one million trees by 2025. Thus far 250,000 trees have been planted. There is growing recognition that trees provide long-term environmental, economic, and health benefits critical to vibrant and livable cities.