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The Salida Park Tree Plan was written by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) for the City of Salida with these main objectives: determine the size and species of trees in Salida’s parks, create maps of tree locations, and determine immediate and suggested management needs.

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

The inventory was conducted from the summer to winter of 2021, with data analysis and plan writing completed in spring of 2022. The report was provided to the City of Salida, presented to the Salida Tree Board and the Salida City Council. The report resulted in additional funding allotted to the care and maintenance of Salida Park trees.

The report utilized a risk assessment method and focused on: likelihood of failure, such as tree defects (i.e., rot, dead branches, damage, poor structure, species) and action needed, recommendations moving forward such as pruning or removal.

A level 1 assessment was completed, which includes external observations of the tree in relation to failure. A level 3 assessment was recommended for larger, mature trees of concern rated of higher risk and with near-future potential failure.

Level 3 assessments utilize additional equipment to determine the conditions of the tree, such as internal defects. The report made suggestions for the mitigation of potential hazards, such as a hanging branch that could fall on a passerby, or a large tree with extensive internal rot that could fall in a busy park. With tourism and recreation being a large part of visitation to Salida’s parks, the health and maintenance of our trees are imperative.

Our Salida park trees are of vital importance for a variety of reasons: decreased heat island effect, additional shading, enhanced park aesthetics, increased overall health, enhanced wildlife habitat, air quality improvements, reduced stormwater runoff, increased water quality, and quantity… the list goes on and on.

Tree canopy and ecosystem analysis for Salida park trees were utilized to compute an estimated monetary value of the trees and their benefits. Our park trees remove 443 lbs./acre of ozone annually, produce 11.7 tons of oxygen, and store 494 tons of carbon. The replacement value of our park trees is $2,210,000.

CSFS and the City of Salida acknowledge the importance of biodiversity in our park trees, and this report established that there is a strong need to increase the species that exist in our parks. 23 percent of our park trees are Siberian elms. This provides a unique challenge with our elevation, arid climate, and increase in droughts. However, this is also an opportunity for the City of Salida to plant new species to improve our urban and community forests and create resilience against insects and disease.

With this report, the city can move forward with specific tree maintenance to protect the visitors of our Salida Parks, apply for grant funding to maintain existing trees as well as plant additional trees, and increase biodiversity, age diversity, and canopy levels within our parks.

Written by: Mercedes Siegle-Gaither, for the Colorado State Forest Service, Salida Field Office.

Submitted by Tom Jacobson for the Salida Tree Board to the Salida City column at Ark Valley Voice. The tree board has been involved with the Colorado State Forest Service inventories “Salida Park Tree to Plan for the Future.”

Editor’s Note: Is should be noted that many of the trees in Salida Parks, such as Riverside Park are 100 years old.