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Walking, riding and driving through the streets of Salida, something worth noting is the abundance of trees in our community. Our streets, parks, and trails are made more beautiful with the existence of trees. These trees comprise Salida’s community forest, a vital component of Salida’s ecosystem.

Many of the trees in Riverside Park are 100 years old. Image by Brooke Gilmore.

Trees provide many benefits to a community. They insulate against wind and provide shade in summer, resulting in cooler temperatures and thereby reducing energy costs. Trees absorb traffic sounds as well as carbon dioxide, provide cleaner air and water, foster healthier residents, and promote higher property values. Energy use, stormwater management, water use, and wildlife habitat are all affected by community forest management.

Trees have not always been such an abundant part of Salida’s environment. Prior to the settlement of Salida, trees in this area were scarce, growing only along the banks of the Arkansas River and some main streams. Community forest efforts began in the 1880s with the establishment of Salida. As irrigation ditches were dug, trees were planted to provide shade. Other trees were planted to provide windbreaks.  As these original trees matured they modified wind patterns and soil temperatures so that more types of trees could be planted and grow. This was the beginning of Salida’s urban forest.

One hundred and six years after the settlement of Salida, the Salida Tree Board was established as a steward for our urban forest planted on city property. Arbor Day was officially celebrated, an ordinance pertaining to city trees was passed and Salida became a Tree City USA.

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program counts more than 3,600 communities across the country as members. Participation in this program helps to build a community’s urban forest. Salida has been a continual participant for the past 36 years.

Today there are some 34 species, totaling more than 2,800 trees, comprising the public portion of Salida’s urban forest (street right-of-ways, parks, and other public grounds). Many more trees are located within private properties, both commercial and residential.

The Salida Tree Board is a volunteer advisory board representing the City of Salida. This board works directly with the City of Salida Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Salida Public Works Department, as well as the Colorado State Forest Service and local ISA Certified Arborists, to oversee the management of the portion of Salida’s urban forest planted on city property, which includes trees in city parks and the city street trees.

Just as the City of Salida evolves, so too does our urban forest evolve. Trees are living organisms with lifecycles. Good management practices address identifying the species of trees that will thrive in our community; proper planting, maintenance, and pruning of new trees; health assessment, maintenance, and pruning of established trees; and end-of-life care and removal of diseased and dying trees.

The benefits of a diverse and healthy urban forest are endless. Salida’s trees represent a significant economic, social, and environmental asset for our community. Their existence enhances our quality of life. Please contact the Salida Tree Board to learn how you can help to grow Salida’s urban forest through our Adopt-A-Tree program.

Salida Tree Board Website
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