Up a Tree


We’ve had a lot of discussion concerning trees on University Avenue – rightly so.

Many are concerned that we’ll lose some beautiful trees with the new BRT route. I too am a fan of protecting and keeping the trees but as we do so it’s important that we look at them with a long term view.

Several of the trees along the route are Ginkos planted about 7 years ago. These trees are a good choice for the high demands of University Ave and can be moved for about $200 each. This is an easy decision for us and we expect to keep the trees on University as part of the BRT project.

Some of the trees are beautiful Maple trees that have added to the ambiance of University Avenue for decades. No one wants to lose these trees. That said, Ty Nielsen, City Forester, has been clear that the trees have a poor chance of survival with or without the BRT project. They are nearing their normal life expectancy. Some of the them are already looking sick and Ty tells us that within 6 years they will all need to be replaced. Adding to the problem is the way the trees were planted in road base gravel with no thought to ideal growing conditions.

So, the choice before us – to design around the trees and save them while compromising parking, bike lanes, and sidewalks knowing that within the decade they will all be gone or, build the right street with the the right trees in the right conditions so that in 10 years we will have the right street with growing healthy trees.

I asked Ty if there was a single old tree along the route that was worth saving. He shook and said, “No.” That shocked me so I asked for a second opinion. Ty and I consulted with Scott Bunker our former city forester. Scott agreed so I pushed for a third opinion. Scott and Ty consulted with Max Darrington, Arborist at BYU who also agreed with Ty’s initial assessment.

Trees are so important to us that we are planting around 750 trees per year throughout Provo City. We are very proactive in ensuring Provo has a very healthy urban forest. Each year we spend approximately 1.3 million dollars taking care of both the utility and urban forests throughout Provo City including our tree planting efforts.

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  1. Steve M.

    I hope that Provo continues to struggle mightily with any decision that involves removing a tree. I also hope that the efforts to plant replacements is done in a way that can ensure their future longevity, not just in this project, but in any project to come. It takes quite some time to grow something that makes Provo so beautiful.

    1. Marc

      Well said. And thank you, Mayor, for the insight.

  2. Pam Williams

    Thank you for this helpful background information. We value trees and are grateful for civic leaders and decision-makers who feel the same way.

  3. Nephi Henry

    Is there an option that would include the moved ginkos AND new trees to replace the maples, along with the parking, bike lanes, etc. that are mentioned here? Is it truly a choice between either trees or these features? These are honest questions, not meant as attacks at all. I think we can all agree that trees will help this stretch of University Ave. look better than the treeless intersection at 300 S, for example. That part of the street really is an eyesore.

  4. Brenda Svendsen

    Thank you so much for this tree update & report. So sorry to hear the news from the experts & hoping that we will be able to enjoy a tree lined University Avenue & Provo City.

  5. Dan Doxey

    I know Provo may have little influence over Orem leaders, but can someone, (ANYONE!) help Orem do something “tree like” with the miles of ugly signage on State Street in Orem?

    A tree-lined State Street from Provo extending through Orem would be one of the best beautification projects this community could have.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Provo, and Mayor Curtis for doing everything in your power to save (or replace) Provo’s trees.

    Those trees are exactly what Orem lacks on its main thoroughfare–having University Avenue lined with great trees is one quality that makes Provo, well … not Orem. To me, Orem is defined by its signage lined street, and Provo by it’s tree lined streets. Let’s plant more and more trees!

  6. Laura

    Thanks for the insight and for doing your research and consulting experts before making a decision that affects the community. As a citizen that does her best to stay conscious and aware of what is happening, I appreciate your constant and conscious efforts to communicate with citizens, especially via this blog. Keep it up! Also, could you do a post about how to get involved in city meetings, town hall meetings, etc?

      1. Laura

        Awesome! Thank you!!

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