Hayden OKs tree ordinance

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— The Hayden Town Board on Tuesday took a step that protects and, in a sense, honors the legacy of some of the town's oldest residents: trees.

The board approved its first tree ordinance, formalizing tree maintenance and preservation efforts that date back nearly 100 years to the planting of the cottonwood trees guarding downtown streets.

The ordinance passed just in time for the town's application to become a Tree City USA, a designation through the National Arbor Day Foundation that will help the town replace aging trees and keep up with maintenance.

The required ordinance calls for a Tree Board, which will help the Parks and Recreation Department develop a tree plan and lists of desirable and undesirable trees.

Three to five members will make up the unpaid board. Parks and Recreation Director J.D. Paul will serve as the town forester, supervising and managing programs involving trees on town property.

Town Manager Russ Martin emphasized that the ordinance applies only to trees on town property or trees with branches overhanging streets or sidewalks.

Residents must have a permit to plant, fertilize, spray, prune or remove trees on any street or town property, and no more than 50 percent of trees can be removed during development or renovations.

The ordinance also includes safety provisions ensuring residents prune trees on private property near streets or sidewalks so branches do not obstruct passing pedestrians or views of streetlights.

Tree City USA designation requires that communities spend $2 per resident annually on tree projects.

The town already spends that amount, Martin said, noting that Hayden has budgeted an extra $1,000 in 2006 for planting trees on National Arbor Day, which is April 10.

State and federal agencies sometimes give preference to Tree City USA communities when awarding grants for trees or forestry programs.

Hayden's application for the designation was well-received by the foundation, Martin said.

Hayden would be the 95th Tree City in Colorado and the second in Routt County; Steamboat Springs has been a Tree City for about 14 years.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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