In 2000, a group was formed calling themselves the “Friends of the High Plains Arboretum.” It operated as a sub-committee of the non-profit Friends of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. This group was composed of diverse members of the region and This
master plan designed by noted landscape architect, Herb Schaal, received an award from the Colorado Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. It envisions an interpretive center, pathways and trails, event spaces, parking and more.
While this was done some time ago, it has yet to be implemented mostly due to a lack of funding by the City of Cheyenne and recent staff cutbacks in the operations of both the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and the Cheyenne Urban Forestry Divisions by the City of Cheyenne in 2010.
The 2,200 acres of the High Plains Grasslands Research Station’s land is owned by the City of Cheyenne, but is under a 200 year lease to the USDA that was signed in 1930. In 2008, the Friends of the High Plains Arboretum, after many years of negotiation came to an agreement to allow 62 acres, composed of mostly tree research plots, to be taken off of this lease and is now under full control by the City. It is currently, very lightly maintained by both the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and the Cheyenne Urban Forestry Division. There has also been some interpretation of many of the more notable plants on the site.
Some of the unplanted acreage is currently being considered for a “arboretum” cemetery by the City of Cheyenne Parks and Recreation Department. An “arboretum” cemetery is a cemetery that has trees as its focus and these trees are curated and interpreted. One of the most notable arboretum cemeteries in the U.S. is the Mount Auburn Arboretum Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. There are those in our community that believe this may be an incompatible use next to the arboretum and those who think this might be a symbiotic development that would help provide funds and labor to help both the cemetery and the High Plains Arboretum.
A arboretum cemetery is more expensive to build and develop but it also functions as a park and an arboretum. It also tends to command a higher rate of burial fees.