Mayor John Suthers, second from left, joined others, including Parks Director Karen Palus, right, and Councilor Yolanda Avila, second from right, in planting a tree on Oct. 15 to kick off the city's Tree Challenge that will span the next two years.
In a 25-minute ceremony on Oct. 15, Mayor John Suthers and other city officials kicked off a program that could have results that span several lifetimes.
They gathered at Alamo Square outside the Pioneers Museum to launch the city's Tree Challenge. The goal is to plant 18,071 trees (the number chosen to represent the city's founding year of 1871) by the end of 2021 to mark the city's sesquicentennial celebration.
As a stout breeze chilled onlookers, Suthers reminded those on hand of the city's founder Gen. William J. Palmer's dedication to creating a tree canopy by planting 600 cottonwood trees. He also saw to it that Monument Valley Park hosts at least one of every tree native to Colorado, many of which survive today.
"While this tree will make our city a little bit better," Suthers said, referencing the Ohio Buckeye he and others helped plant, "together we can accomplish a whole lot more."
He said the city and Colorado Springs Utilities will partner to offer credits to those who plant trees, details of which will be announced at a later date.
City forester Dennis Will noted that a recent assessment of the city's tree canopy set the value of the trees at $900 million. Those trees gobble 2.7 million tons of pollution per year, an added value of $100 million.
If the city were to simply buy 18,071 trees, the bill would come to $5.4 million, he said. Thus, it's important to make sure the trees that are planted during the city's Tree Challenge are given the best opportunity to thrive. that means planting at the right time — spring or early fall — and making sure trees are place in the right locations, outside the domain of power lines and not too close to sidewalks, for example.
Read all the points for planting and growing trees, including rules for planting in city rights of way by going here
. You can track the tree you plant or donate to the effort if your living space isn't conducive to adding trees.