April is Tree Month in Colorado Springs

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When General William Palmer founded our city nearly 150 years ago, it was grasslands and plains as far as the eye could see. Palmer changed that when he had 600 Cottonwoods shipped in and planted along Monument Valley Creek in 1872. He collaborated with well-known forester Gifford Pinchot about control methods for potential threats to the city's young urban forest, including pine beetles.

As part of our city's 150th anniversary celebration, we've designated this April as "Tree Month!" We have some fund activities planned incuding public tree plantings, an Arbor Day celebration, a virtual lecture "Exploring our Urban Forest" presented by the Pioneers Museum and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and weekly educational content on ColoradoSprings.gov that will feature planting tips, and tree care and watering advice from local experts.

"April is usually a great month to plant trees in the Pikes Peak Region, and we encourage people to use these free, online resources to make a plan, and then get out there and have fun planting," said City Forester Dennis Will. "By doing so, you'll be supporting our long-standing history as a Tree City USA, a recognition we first received from the Arbor Day Foundation in 1977. Colorado Springs is actually the longest-running Tree City USA in the state. These roots were planted, literally, by our city's founder William Jackson Palmer, and we are proud to continue this tree legacy today through strategic forestry practices, educating residents and thoughtful planning for the future of our urban forest."

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Through the rest of the growing season, residents and business owners are encouraged to plant a tree on their private property and add it to the growing number of trees tracked in the COS 150: Tree Challenge. The challenge was launched in the fall of 2018 with a goal to plant 18,071 new trees citywide, a nod to the city's founding in 1871. Any tree planted from 2018 to 2021 can count toward the goal, and adding a tree is easy through the online tree tracker at ColoradoSprings.gov/tree150.

City Forestry plans to plant a total of 391 public trees this year. The vast majority of this planting will take place in irrigated medians, including 302 hardy, drought-tolerant trees, like hackberry, linden, catalpa, oaks and ponderosa pines. The median plantings aim to improve species diversity and restock these growing spaces with shade trees that will help soften the impacts of the built environment and create a more verdant experience.

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Today, our urban forest has grown to more than a quarter-million trees and provide many benefits to our city. They add beauty and provide shade. They also aid stormwater retention, benefit property values, help create a sense of serenity, decrease stress and depression, and have even been shown to lower crime rates.

Our urban forest provides an annual economic benefit of over $100 million a year and an additional $12 million in annual Stormwater savings.

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In addition to the median plantings, 73 assorted species will be strategically planted in parks citywide, offering future shade for picnic tables, playgrounds, pathways and streetscapes. Here are the locations of some of the park trees to be planted this year:
  • Six in Soaring Eagles Park, located in the southeastern part of the city, during a ceremonial tree planting for Arbor Day on April 16.
  • Twelve in Red Rock Canyon Open Space to create shade above the picnic areas near the east side parking lot, made possible by a donation from the Friends of Red Rock Canyon.
  • Two in Alamo Square Park, near the Pioneers Museum, with funding from the Broadmoor Garden Club.

In addition to the park and median trees, 16 trees will be planted along the colonnade leading to the historic clubhouse at Patty Jewett Golf Course.

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