Southeastern Colorado communities already are benefitting from a $300,000 grant awarded to the Colorado State Forest Service late last year to address community forestry and tree health concerns in the area, through removing dead trees and planting others this spring.
Most community forests in the area have seen significant decline in recent years, resulting in many dead and dying trees on both public and private properties.
The "Teaming Up for Trees in Southeast Colorado" project will provide landscape-scale restoration across southeast Colorado's community forests through identifying trees that may need to be removed; subsequent dead tree removals; education and outreach efforts; and diverse plantings that provide long-term, healthy community forests. Funding comes from a CSFS award for a USDA Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant.
The initial focus will be on 14 communities across 10 counties that are already active in the Tree City USA program: Campo, Canon City, Eads, Florence, La Junta, La Veta, Lamar, Olney Springs, Ordway, Pueblo, Rocky Ford, Springfield, Swink and Trinidad.
"The southeastern Colorado plains and foothills environments test tree survival even in good years, but drought and late-spring freeze events in recent years have severely impacted tree health in our communities," said Donna Davis, CSFS community forestry program specialist. "This award will allow our communities to better address their most immediate tree management needs, and foster public awareness of the many ecological, economic and social values that trees provide."
She says that threats the area's trees face besides extreme weather and climate factors include thousand cankers disease of black walnuts and also emerald ash borer, an emerging threat in Colorado that has the potential to decimate ash trees.
Existing community tree budgets, as well as community and volunteer labor, may be leveraged in some cases to accomplish project goals. CSFS Southeast Area field offices will provide technical support and will assist each community with Arbor Day celebrations and educational events.