ReLeaf Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids was devastated by the August 2020 derecho, with winds as high as 140 MPH tearing through the city’s tree canopy and vital infrastructure. An estimated 65-70% of the trees in Cedar Rapids were severely damaged or destroyed. Already, work is underway to replant what was lost through the ReLeaf Cedar Rapids plan. This public-private partnership between the City of Cedar Rapids and Trees Forever is a 10-year, prioritized plan that will raise $3.7 million annually to restore and plant a resilient tree canopy. Please consider giving to ensure a green future full of trees.

View the ReLeaf Plan

Impact of the August 2020 Derecho

  • More than 669,000 trees were lost in Cedar Rapids, with 570,000 of those being on private land.
  • The estimated canopy cover in Cedar Rapids was reduced from 24% pre-derecho to only 8% following the storm.

ReLeaf Cedar Rapids

Public Planting

Public plantings will total 42,000 trees, with 34,227 street plantings and 8,275 park plantings.

The plan includes detailed landscape architect designs for 38 city parks.

Funding will be provided to water and care for newly planted public trees for their first two years.

Private Planting Support

Approximately 85% of all land in Cedar Rapids is privately owned.

Private support includes the development of a “Yard Tree Plan” resource for individual landowners.

An “Institutional Trees Plan” for large landowners such as schools, hospitals, golf courses, cemeteries, or churchyards will help replant privately on a large scale.

Trees Forever will deploy resources through TreeKeeper training, volunteer plantings and tree adoptions for private residents.

Financial Impact

  • ReLeaf Cedar Rapids will cover a 10-year recovery effort with an average estimated cost of $3.7 million per year.
  • The City of Cedar Rapids has committed $1 million per year towards the plan.
  • The private fundraising effort is managed through Trees Forever and is co-chaired by John and Dyan Smith and Mary Quass.
  • Further future potential sources of funding include nationwide grants and the sale of carbon mitigation credits from newly planted trees.

Built on Public Input

ReLeaf Cedar Rapids is designed to engage and benefit the entire community. The plan was guided by public input sessions, an advisory committee of community and neighborhood leaders as well as City and Trees Forever staff. It was written by renown city planner Jeff Speck and landscape architecture firm Confluence. The plan focuses heavily on rebuilding a resilient canopy of mostly native trees, one that preserves citywide plant diversity and distinct neighborhood character, while striving to limit climate change, increase social equity, encourage volunteerism, grow human capital, and educate our children.

Trees Forever, city officials, Jeff Speck and representatives from Confluence give a detailed update to the ReLeaf Cedar Rapids plan at a public session on August 25, 2021.