Boise’s long love affair with the tree knows no bounds. The name of the city itself derives from “les bois,” which translates into the woods in French. We call it the City of Trees, we host a festival known as Treefort… heck, we even share our name with the Boise National Forest.
But one Boise City Council member pines for even more trees.
One-hundred-thousand more trees, in fact.
Elaine Clegg wants to seed what she calls the City of Trees Challenge. The goal would plant one additional tree for every household in the city. She thinks the idea has many offshoots… or branches as it were.
“Trees have this really special way of bringing people together,” she said during a taping of the BoiseDev podcast. “Who doesn’t love trees?”
She notes a recent report highlighted by NASA notes that trees could help mitigate the effects of climate change. In Boise, the city launched a goal to increase its tree canopy. Right now, it stands at 14%, but the city hopes to boost it to 24%. The city partnered on a study that tracks all of the current locations of trees across Boise.
“In that study, we identified a hundred thousand planting sites inside the City of Boise: Good planting sites that have water, and are in the right place from a sun perspective.”
To plant 100,000 trees over ten years, it would mean planting 27 new trees per day. Every day.
“I’m really jacked about it. It’s the kind of thing that actually could happen and people could be excited about,” she said. “The thing I love about the United States is that we are always trying to figure out how to do things better.”
Beyond Boise, Clegg hopes the project could take root, and sponsor 100,000 additional trees to go in forests around the world. Under the City of Trees Challange canopy, Boise could encourage other cities to set a similar goal.
For the idea to grow, Clegg says, Boise would need not only participation from city government but private businesses, non-profit groups, and others.
Maybe the idea is sappy. Maybe it will leave people stumped. Maybe it barks up the wrong tree. But Clegg says people are already rustling with excitement.
“(I’ve had) Individual people who’ve said, ‘I’ll sponsor a tree – what can I do. I’ll plant trees, what can I do?'”