Dying western redcedar

Urban Forest Research

Active Research Projects

WSU Tree Equity Program Overview

We received a Urban and Community Forestry grant to start a five-year project with four community colleges in Washington State. The grant was awarded by the USDA Forest Service as part of the unprecedented funding available in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources has awarded WSU with 3 years of funding to engage community members in a volunteer tree inventory program in Tacoma.

Learn more about the need and opportunity at https://treehealth.wsu.edu/tacoma

Tree planting
Sentinel Tree Planting

The Ornamental Plant Pathology program received support from the USDA Forest Service International Programs to establish a sentinel tree planting in partnership with the Port of Tacoma. A site has been selected and prepped. Tree planting will begin in January 2024.

Read more about the project, or contact us to get involved.

Western redcedar dieback

The dieback of western redcedar is a major concern for northwest communities. Recent research has linked redcedar tree mortality to consecutive longer and hotter summer droughts.

Community Science

More research to understand the patterns of western redcedar dieback is critically needed. Community scientists are helping advance this research by contributing to the Western Redcedar Dieback Map on iNaturalist.

Urban Redcedar Health

Our program is exploring the relationships between redcedar tree health and urban factors such as air temperatures and pollution. Contact us if you would like to learn more or collaborate.

Open Redcedar Adaptation Network

We are monitoring four plantings of western redcedar trees from two seed zones. The goal is to compare the growth and vigor of trees from a Willamette Valley (Oregon) seed zone to trees from a Lewis County (Washington) seed zone.

Learn more or get involved.

Previous Research Projects

Which Tacoma schools need trees the most?

Ten schools were recommended as priorities for urban greening efforts based on average ranks across five metrics (Tacoma equity index, existing canopy coverage, environmental health disparity ranks, summer air temperatures, and existing street trees).

Learn more about the approach and results in our storymap.

C. corticale dna extraction
Sooty Bark Disease

Sooty bark disease is an emerging issue for urban forests in the Northwest. Many maple tree species are susceptible. Understanding the impacts of this disease is importance because maple trees account for nearly 25% of our urban forests.


Our lab provides diagnostics for sooty bark disease. Learn more about sooty bark disease and find instructions for submitting a sample or feel free to contact us.

Tacoma Study

We received a Washington State Department of Natural Resource Community Forestry Assistance Grant to engage communities and survey maple trees across Tacoma in 2022.

Our team visited 140 randomly selected blocks throughout Tacoma and surveyed the health of nearly 1000 maple trees. A blog post about the study was recently featured by the Tacoma Tree Foundation.

Recent Proposals

We submitted a proposal to engage with schools about the barriers and opportunities for greening schools as ‘oases’ in urban heat islands. The proposal was submitted to the NSF-CIVIC Innovation Challenge in 2022, but was not awarded. Contact us to receive a copy of the proposal or take the idea further.

Interested in funding more research? Contact us to co-produce a project, start something new, or increase the impact of one of the above projects.