STEP Up! Enhancing the Biodiversity and Resilience of Colorado’s Community Forests

Organized by the Colorado Tree Coalition (CTC), the purpose of the Select Tree Evaluation Program (STEP) is to evaluate the ability of new and underutilized tree species and varieties to grow and thrive in Colorado. Through thoughtful selection and rigorous monitoring we are able to document strong performers, evaluate their growth characteristics and environmental needs, and make recommendations to program cooperators and others for future planting that increases the biodiversity and resilience of Colorado’s urban and community forests. These recommendations are captured in the Front Range Recommended Tree List as it is updated and through regular communications and publications of program partners.

The CTC selects one species/variety of tree each year that appears likely to thrive, but is untested, to be included in the STEP. Five communities are then selected to plant, care for, and monitor three trees each. Since 2001, 18 new species/varieties have been planted and evaluated in 26 Colorado communities along the Front Range and in Grand Junction.

Through this internship, the student will work with STEP Community Champions to collect, organize, quality check, and analyze tree survival and condition data. Based on these data, the intern will work with project partners to craft recommendations for continued tree species trials throughout Colorado, primarily along the Front Range, and inform updates to the 2010 Front Range Recommended Tree List. Findings will be presented to the Front Range Urban Forestry Council at the end of the 10-week internship and may contribute toward an academic publication.

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