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Practical Aspects of Tree Selection for High Desert Climates

Appropriate tree selection is an important part of retaining the health of our urban forests. We recently surveyed 121 arborists in the Intermountain Western region of the U.S. regarding their top ten choices for urban trees in their area. We also asked about the environmental and cultural factors they use in making tree selection decisions. Factors such as cold hardiness, drought tolerance, and insect/disease resistance ranked high among environmental factors. Factors such as aesthetic values, availability, ease of establishment, and maintenance requirements were also important. We will discuss the significance of past experience and contemplation of future challenges in the tree selection decision-making process for urban forest resilience.

Dr. Kratsch has 20 years of experience working on issues related to stress factors in trees and shrubs. Her current work is focused on the impact of urban heat islands on trees, and the role of trees and other landscape vegetation in mitigating this phenomenon. She is also interested in strategies for marketing social change, and has used a variety of methods to help citizens move towards positive behavior related to urban landscape sustainability.

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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