Students take to trees

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Residents shouldn't be alarmed this week if they see groups of Hayden Middle School students examining the leaves and bark of trees in front of homes and businesses.

Sixth-grade teacher Robin Bush has recruited her students to help the town become a Tree City USA, a designation that would help with tree projects, including replacing the many dying cottonwoods downtown.

With GPS units and measuring tapes in hand, students will take to the streets Thursday and Friday to document information about downtown trees.

It's the first step toward becoming a Tree City USA through the National Arbor Day Foundation. The town needs to know what kinds of trees it has and how healthy they are, said Pat Holderness, who is spearheading the Tree City effort.

"It's a learning process all around," she said.

The Hayden Town Board in July agreed Holderness should pursue the designation, which requires towns have a tree ordinance and establish a tree board responsible for maintaining trees in public areas.

Hayden also must spend $2 per resident per year -- or about $3,400 -- for planting and maintenance. Town Manager Russ Martin has said the town already spends more than that amount on trees.

Jay Whaley of the Routt County Extension Office has been teaching sixth-graders how to use Global Positioning System technology to record the location of each tree.

Colorado State Forester John Twitchell has been giving students pointers about identifying different species, Holderness said.

The survey, which will have information about tree size and health, will help the town plan when it may need to remove dying trees and plant new trees.

"It's a good starting point because not only do we know what we have, we can diversify," Holderness said.

Residents are welcome to watch or help students with the inventory process.

For more information about the Tree City USA program, call Holderness at 276-3556.

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