Five ponderosa pine cones on a single branch, which was collected during 2019, a mast seeding year in Colorado.
Ponderosa Pine Cones Five ponderosa pine cones on a single branch, which was collected during 2019, a mast seeding year in Colorado. © Lauryn Wachs/TNC


City of Trees Challenge Tree Planting Underway in Boise National Forest

This spring, 37,000 new ponderosa pine seedlings will be planted in the Boise National Forest as part of the City of Trees Challenge, a multi-year project led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), City of Boise and the Treasure Valley Canopy Network to provide community benefits for Boiseans and fight the effects of climate change.

Coinciding with Arbor Day on April 30, this is the first seedling planting effort of the City of Trees Challenge, a ten-year initiative started by the City of Boise and Council President Elaine Clegg, aimed at planting a tree in Boise for every household and a seedling in the forest for every resident.

TNC and partners received $25,000 in funding from the Arbor Day Foundation to plant the first 37,000 seedlings in the Boise National Forest to restore lands damaged by the 2016 Pioneer Fire. Upper Clear Creek (8 miles northeast of Lowman, Idaho) was selected as a high-priority area for fire rehabilitation. From mid-April through late May, a total of 564,000 ponderosa pine seedlings will be planted to improve soil stability, rehabilitate forest health and wildlife habitat and enhance recreation opportunities for current and future generations of Idahoans.

“Sustainably planting trees and restoring forests, especially after severe wildfires, is a natural climate solution that helps reduce greenhouse gases and restores land for people and nature to thrive,” says Mark Menlove, TNC’s Idaho State Director. “The Nature Conservancy is delighted to partner on a tree-planting effort that will benefit Idaho’s forests and communities for years to come.”

Lucky Peak Nursery Seedlings being grown for the City of Trees Challenge © Traci Swift/TNC

The ponderosa pine seedlings will be planted throughout Upper Clear Creek’s 3,100-acre site with restoration as the primary conservation objective. Restoration-style planting focuses on planting long-lived tree species at variable spacing and densities that reflect resilient fire-adapted ecosystems. The seedlings planted now will become future seed sources that sustain and repopulate surrounding areas that take longer to recover. The planting locations are prioritized in severely burned areas identified as important for wildlife (such as elk, white-headed woodpecker and flammulated owl), aquatic ecosystems (such as critical habitat for bull trout) and recreation. Over a fifty-year period, these trees will offset nearly 11,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide—the emissions equivalent of taking approximately 2,500 cars off the road for a year.

“The 2016 Pioneer Fire burned through this landscape and left many areas severely impacted. It is one of the Forest’s priority areas for restoration,” said Boise National Forest Supervisor, Tawnya Brummett. “We value this partnership because we are applying on-the-ground actions to improve the habitat for all species, including local communities and visitors who rely on the forest for their quality of life.”

The Boise National Forest has one of the largest sustained reforestation programs in the country. Climate and fuel models predict south and central Idaho will experience an increase in large, intense and severe fires in the future due to decreased snowpack and precipitation and increased temperatures. Partnerships like the City of Trees Challenge and public support for reforestation efforts will be critical to build resiliency in national forests and nearby communities.


The City of Trees Challenge began as an idea by City Council President, Elaine Clegg. This community-wide initiative inspires Boiseans to plant a new tree for every household across the city - in every corner of every neighborhood for a total of 100,000 over ten years. The Challenge also impacts forests around the state by empowering Boiseans to sponsor a forest seedling for every Boise resident (235,000 seedlings). For the Challenge, the City has partnered with the Treasure Valley Canopy Network, The Nature Conservancy and more.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.