Utah State University (USU) Extension

Utah State University (USU) Cooperative Extension Services

How the Utah State University CES is positioned at the national, state, regional, and city levels:

Demographic Categories City of Logan, Utah
Black/African: 1.39%
Asian: 3.91%
White: 84.25%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 0.69%
Native Alaskan/Native American: 0.47%
Two or more races: 2.98%
Other race: 6.31%
Median age: 23.9
Total Population: 51,619

Utah State University (USU) Extension is a network of available local experts who bring relevant information, education and solutions to individuals, families and communities. USU Extension offers online research-based information and live programming in gardening, family finance, relationship education, food safety, emergency preparedness, agriculture, natural resources and 4-H and youth programs.

The importance of retaining a healthy urban tree canopy is widely known, but public acceptability of alternative sidewalk materials that both fix sidewalks and keep urban trees intact are not well known. USU Forestry Extension compared the results of two sidewalk replacement projects: one that administered pre-construction educational brochures to nearby residents informing them of a novel project in their neighborhood that replaced broken sidewalks with alternative materials, and one that did not.

The objectives of this project were to:

    • Determine public acceptability of alternative sidewalk materials
    • Make recommendations for implementing similar projects on a region-wide scale
    • Evaluate the impact that education has on public acceptability

How the Utah State University CES address the multitude of issues and priorities in their community through educational programming:

FUNDING & BUY-IN  |  In 2014 USU Forestry Extension received a Community Forestry Grant from the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands to support the Logan Street Sidewalk Project. Extension met with City of Logan staff and engineers and garnered additional monetary support in the form of matching funds for labor and materials. Extension’s proposed solution—to replace rigid sidewalk tiles with flexible tiles made from 100% recycled plastic—supported the City’s goals of repairing the sidewalk while removing as few urban trees as possible.

OUTREACH  |  Following the installation of new sidewalk tiles in 2015, USU Forestry Extension administered a survey of nearby residents to measure perceptions of and support for the project. Survey results indicated that residents who lived nearby would have liked to know what was going on in their neighborhood before the new sidewalk materials were installed. These results were used to inform, direct, and improve the second sidewalk project in 2018. In the second project, Extension educated nearby residents about the project prior to construction and also contacted news outlets to inform them about how this novel tool would be used in the upcoming project.

PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS  |  USU Forestry Extension worked with the Extension Forestry Specialist and City of Logan municipal crew to determine the best locations to install new sidewalk materials. During construction, the Forestry Specialist helped reduce the impact from heavy equipment on nearby trees and roots while advising workers on which roots to remove. One of the engineers that Extension worked closely with won the “2018 Distinguished Service Award” from the Utah Community Forestry Council for his involvement with the project.

ONGOING COMMUNITY EDUCATION  |  In addition to the educational outreach that occurred prior to installing new sidewalk tiles in 2018, USU Forestry Extension developed other educational tools to communicate the project to the public. They held a webinar to educate the community about ways to deal with urban tree conflicts. They also developed a YouTube video and placed an interpretive sign on a highly used trail to highlight the project.

How the Utah State University CES attracts, develops, retains, and structures competent talent:

View the 2018 Impact Statement for this project.

By replacing broken sidewalks with alternative materials, USU Forestry Extension was able to leave 29 large urban trees in place, each providing unique economic, ecological, and societal benefits to the community. The 29 trees that were preserved have a combined annual benefit of $5,548. This calculation is based on the value of stormwater retention, property value increases, energy savings, air pollutant absorption, and carbon sequestration.

In addition, Extension measured public acceptability of the alternative sidewalk techniques and found that acceptability increased from 78% to 94% when educational information was distributed before new materials were installed. Public acceptability of saving urban trees through this method increased from 72% to 96% after educational information was distributed. This demonstrates the importance of outreach and education, especially when new tools are being used.

How the Utah State University CES collaborates to leverage resources for collective impact:

USU Forestry Extension was well positioned to demonstrate a tool that allowed municipalities to both 1) fix broken sidewalks AND 2) keep large urban trees in place. Without Extension’s persistent and reliable presence in this program, many of these trees would have eventually been removed, resulting in negative consequences on several levels. USU Forestry Extension leadership supported this novel project and provided a framework for these cities to take a risk and try a different technique that ultimately the public was interested in and supported.

In 2018, USU Forestry Extension held a training to demonstrate best management practices and installation techniques of this product to over 25 Utah community forestry employees and professionals from around the state. In April 2019, their poster earned them a Green Award Recognition for Leadership in Extension Sustainability Programming at the National Sustainability Summit & National Extension Energy Summit conference.  In 2019, USU Forestry Extension published a Tools of the Trade Journal of Extension article which explains the project in a step-by-step fashion so it can replicated in other communities.