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Nuno Park Trees at 200-298 West Park Ave. in Salida. Note lack of tree diversity with the majority of trees being Green Ash or Siberian Elm. All trees are similar in age as well. This is an ideal park to remove any sick or unhealthy trees and begin adding young, diverse species. Photo courtesy Colorado State Forest Service.

In 2016, on the recommendation of the Salida Tree Board, the City of Salida commissioned and funded an inventory of the public trees within the city limits. Public trees were defined as the trees that are located within the city right of way (most often between the curb and sidewalk) and the trees that live in our parks.

Trees along the river corridor were not included. The initial survey of the trees included 34 species and about 2,800 trees.

Beyond merely counting the trees, details such as trunk diameter, relative health, GPS location, and maintenance needs, as well as the ground cover (surrounding plants, bare ground, hardscape) where the tree was planted were cataloged. Collecting this data has allowed the Tree Board to have insight into the health of the urban forest while beginning to prioritize the maintenance needs within the parks as well along the streets.

Starting in the summer of 2017, the city used this maintenance data to guide work to be completed by licensed arborists. Old declining trees have been removed, and trees with dangerous limbs have been pruned. As of the start of 2023, the most serious safety issues have been addressed.  However, because the urban tree canopy is dynamic, there are issues that continue to arise and are addressed as needed.

Going forward, trees are evaluated once they leaf out in the spring. Safety issues are given the highest priority, while clearance or structural pruning are addressed once any safety issues have been mitigated. For the last six years the city council, recognizing the many benefits that trees provide, has included funds in the city budget for the maintenance and planting of trees.

A person walking around on the mesa will notice Silver Maples lining some of the streets. These old sentinels planted many decades ago have witnessed Salida’s history but now are at the end of their life span.

Many of the old shade trees along our streets were planted before the streets were paved. This allowed them to receive the water they needed from lawns and the water percolating through the unpaved roadbed. Once roads were paved and curb and gutters were added this moved water away from the roots of the trees.

This has left many of our large shade trees in a state of decline. In our dry environment, we can slow this decline when and where possible by providing water.

Projecting the public trees onto a map, one can see where in Salida the tree population is greatest, as well as areas where the numbers of trees are lacking. The city parks as well as the older downtown and mesa areas see the greatest tree density. This information will guide future planting initiatives. As our large shade trees pass on, the Tree Board is dedicated to replacing many of those trees.

As a service to the community, the current inventory can be viewed at CoTreeView. To access our inventory, open the site listed below and highlight the City of Salida in the legend. You can then zoom into the city and see the trees. Clicking on a tree will display the species as well as other details collected. The inventory can be found at: 

Through the Salida Tree Board Adopt-a-Tree program, property owners may, for a small fee, apply to adopt a tree that will be planted in the city right-of-way, staked, and caged to protect it from the deer. In return, the homeowner agrees to regularly water the tree and notify the Tree Board of any issues affecting the tree.

These trees are smaller species and cultivars that are better suited to the limited space between the curb and sidewalk and whose roots are less likely to heave the sidewalk or curb. Applications to adopt a street tree are available at the Salida Regional Library, at City Hall, and on the Tree Board portion of the city website. 

Featured image; Colorado Tree View map of Salida Trees, Mar. 21, 2023. Image courtesy