Community Ag Alliance: ReTree Steamboat become year-long endeavor | SteamboatToday.com

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Community Ag Alliance: ReTree Steamboat become year-long endeavor

ReTree Steamboat, entering its 5th year now, is an annual tradition that the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and the Colorado State Forest Service are proud to foster. But for YVSC and CSFS, spring is really the culmination of a year of preparation. Every year, we've had hundreds of helpers planting thousands of trees with us. This year, we are switching things up a little, and we are more excited than ever about all of the ReTree Steamboat planting projects we have planned for 2015.

The inaugural "ReTree Colorado" event was founded in 2010 by Tristan Frolich after he won a $20,000 grant from Sun Chips and National Geographic. The incredible success of the first ReTree event inspired YVSC to foster its continuation, making ReTree an annual event. Over the past five years, YVSC and CSFS have engaged 2,058 volunteers to plant and care for 23,190 trees as part of ReTree. And although the mountain pine beetle epidemic was the original impetus for ReTree, the program has now evolved to focus on the bigger picture of getting people connected and committed to our community forests and open spaces, not just for one day, but year-round. It is our mission to work with schools, open spaces and recreation areas to increase age and species diversity, provide slope stability and wildlife habitat and create more aesthetic and welcoming parks.

This year, we will be planting at three locations in Routt County — Stagecoach State Park, Hayden's Dry Creek Park and Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area — and we have numerous planting days scheduled in May, June and October. A full description with dates and maps of the planting sites can be found on our yvsc.org/retree.

Beyond tree planting, YVSC and CSFS provide long-term care of the seedlings. Since 2012, one of the objectives of our ReTree program has been to maintain a survival rate of 60 percent for the newly planted seedlings. The results indicate that this is a successful strategy. At our past planting sites — Emerald Mountain, Mt. Werner, Stagecoach State Park, the Sanctuary, Yampa Valley Core Trail and Hayden's Dry Creek Park — tree survival is greater than 60 to 75 percent.

This year, we will round out the ReTree Steamboat 2015 with several events and an Art Show at the Depot, in partnership with the Steamboat Arts Council. In this way, we hope to continue to connect people to our community forests and open spaces, even after the shovels and buckets are put away for the winter.

We welcome everyone to participate in ReTree Steamboat by volunteering to plant or water and by coming to the Art Show in the fall. To learn more information about ReTree Steamboat and the dates and locations for the ReTree events, or to volunteer at our events, please visit yvsc.org/retree.

Andy Kennedy is program and marketing director for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.