About 100 years ago, not long after Hayden became an incorporated town, a young man walked to the Yampa River and gathered cottonwood seeds.
As the story goes, he distributed the seeds to Hayden residents, who planted them along Jefferson Avenue and other downtown streets.
Surpassing their average lifespan of about 70 years, the once stately trees now are dying -- a reality that has awakened residents such as Pat Holderness to the character and ambiance the trees add to Hayden.
"Trees just make a town a town," said Holderness, who attended the Trees, People and Towns conference in Cheyenne, Wyo., in June.
The event inspired her to propose Hayden as a Tree City USA through the National Arbor Day Foundation, a designation that will help encourage the planting and maintenance of trees and also help the town plan replacement projects for aging trees.
The Town Board today will consider Holderness' Tree City proposal.
To qualify for the designation, the town must contribute $2 per resident into a tree budget -- about the amount the town currently spends on planting and maintenance, Holderness said.
The town also must have a tree ordinance addressing the kinds of trees allowed, where and how they should be planted and other issues. A Tree Board, serving under the town Parks and Recreation Board, would oversee the tree program.
Designation would make the town eligible for grants to help with tree projects and protection, including keeping ravenous beavers away from young trees, Holderness said.
"You can plant trees, but if you don't take care of them, they usually don't last long in this country," she said.
Also today, the Town Board will hear an update about expansion projects at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
The airport broke ground last week on second-phase improvements, starting with a paving project that will expand the parking ramp for Boeing 757s and improvement of parking and bus staging areas.
Expansion of the holding area for departing passengers and concessions areas is planned for next summer.
The groundbreaking almost was delayed because a lone bid for the paving work from Connell Resources was about $2 million more than the budget of about $7.5 million.
The company, however, worked with Routt County to trim the cost to $8.14 million.
The board meets at 7 p.m. at Hayden Town Hall.
Staff writer Tom Ross contributed to this report.