Steamboat Springs This year’s ReTree Steamboat was focused more on the quality of the planting job rather than the quantity planted.
“We have 1,000, but we have 1,000 that we’re going to take care of,” said Carolina Manriquez, a Colorado State Forest Service forester based in Steamboat Springs.
She said the 200 volunteers who showed up to the third annual event Saturday morning were careful to dig a proper hole, plant the tree, water it, mulch it and then water it again. Groups have volunteered to visit the planting sites again during the summer for watering.
“You have to take care of the baby trees to make sure they’re going to make it,” Manriquez said.
During the first ReTree event three years ago, 14,000 trees were planted after former Steamboat resident Tristan Frolich secured a $20,000 grant from the SunChips and National Geographic Green Effect contest. Efforts were focused the first year on sites like the Steamboat Lake area, which was devastated by the mountain pine beetle.
The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council started organizing the event last year, when 3,000 trees were planted at Howelsen Hill.
On Saturday, trees were planted in city-owned open space near The Sanctuary subdivision, but efforts again were focused on eight areas at Howelsen Hill.
“Hopefully in 50 years, it will look more like what it had been historically, which is mixed conifer stands,” Manriquez said.
Volunteers planted several species of trees with the goal of making the urban forest at Howelsen more diverse, thereby creating a more healthy and tolerant forest. Planting new trees should help with stabilizing the slopes, as well.
Some of the volunteers worked to plant the new forest on the steep and rocky areas of Howelsen where Douglas fir trees are being killed by beetles.
City arborist Zach Wehr said that Howelsen was an ideal location for the ReTree event because Howelsen is what defines our urban forest and that the event gave everyone a chance to make a difference in the community.
“Everyone has a lot of vested emotion in Howelsen Hill,” Wehr said.
The ReTree event included an expo on Fifth Street where local sustainability efforts were on display, including local carpenters who are using wood from beetle-killed lodgepole pine.
Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Executive Director Sarah Jones said that the trees were purchased using $4,000 in donations and said that she was pleased with the volunteer turnout and popularity of the event.
“It’s definitely growing,” Jones said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com