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Mabel is the start of something new in Salida. A young Autumn Blaze Maple tree has became the first street planted in Salida this year in a continuing campaign to enhance the city’s urban tree canopy by the Salida Tree Board.

Curtis Milstein, of Colorado Sticks and Stones, working with the Salida Tree Board, explains the finer points of tree planting to Longfellow elementary students prior to putting a street tree into the ground on Poncha Blvd. last week. Photo by Dan Smith.

While Arbor Day fell on April 30 this year, the tree planting ceremony had fourth-grade students from Longfellow Elementary School and their teacher, Debra Colgate, assisting Curtis Milstein of Colorado Sticks and Stones with planting the seven-foot tree’s root ball into the ground in front of 318 Poncha Boulevard.

Salida Tree Board President Marilyn Moore was on hand to supervise the effort, designed to counter the loss of shade trees due to drought, disease, storm damage, neglect, and infrastructure projects that sometimes require tree removal from city rights-of-way. Experts have noted that as the local tree canopy ages, Salida is losing the environmental benefit of trees.

Milstein worked with the eager students and impressed on them the environmental impact benefit of trees in giving off oxygen, absorbing pollutants and carbon dioxide to moderate climate change and reduce energy costs as well as providing food and homes for birds and other animals.

The students decided to name the newly-planted tree “Mabel.”

“They were just great,” Milstein said later about the enthusiasm exhibited by the students as they took part in the project. Many listened intently and smiled as they learned about proper tree planting, deciding which ‘best side’ of the tree to face the home or street and the care and watering required of the successful applicant homeowner.

The adopted trees will be smaller flowering species or medium-sized shade tree species that will not pose a problem with sidewalks. That has happened with other large shade trees such as large Siberian elms and silver maples previously planted in city rights-of-way in the past.

A street tree in front of a home also adds significantly to the home’s value.  Planting and caring for a tree is a great way to offset a homeowner’s carbon footprint.

The Tree Board will determine the suitability of the proposed planting site and in consultation with the homeowner will select an appropriate species for planting in the city right-of-way in front of the adopter’s home. In return, the homeowner must agree to care for the tree.

The new tree will need to be watered several times a week when first planted, then weekly in the summer and monthly in the winter for the first three to five years.

The city no longer permits large shade tree species in the right-of-ways. The Tree Board does suggest homeowners plant those in their front or back yards and urges homeowners to plant these in the irrigated parts of their front or backyards.

Successful applicants are asked to contribute $50 toward the cost to plant and purchase the new tree. That contribution will be used to purchase and plant more trees. For more information, call the Tree Board at 719-539-9195.

Tree adoption applications are available at Salida Regional Library and at Salida City Hall. Applications may also be downloaded directly from