Knowing Denverites are likely spending more time at home and in their yards than in previous summers, City staff want to provide some resources to help you learn more about how you can help protect and preserve Denver’s urban canopy and specifically, what you can do if you have an ash tree on your property. You may be familiar with the Be A Smart Ash program, and you may have heard that the threat of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) on 1 in 6 of Denver’s trees is imminent. The resources below will help neighbors learn more about EAB, how to best defend against EAB if you have an ash tree and how to know if you qualify for a free tree – regardless of whether you have an ash tree – to help bolster and diversify our precious urban canopy.
How You Can Help Protect and Preserve Denver’s Urban Canopy
By Michael Swanson, City Forester, Denver Parks and Recreation
Flowers are in bloom, birds are busy building nests and with social distancing recommendations in place, people are more eager than ever to spend time outside safely, in their yards or enjoying neighborhood walks under Denver’s beautiful trees. But did you know that our urban canopy isn’t just picturesque and doesn’t just provide respite for wildlife, it’s actually critically important for our overall quality of life?
Trees produce oxygen, reduce air pollution, cool our neighborhoods and homes, and increase our property values. Yet most trees are not native to our city and the ones that we’ve planted and cultivated – no matter for how long – are fragile. They are susceptible to our sometimes extreme climate and insect infestations. In short, Denver’s urban canopy relies on us to be kept healthy, protected, preserved and replenished.
So, when the City and County of Denver learned that the emerald ash borer (EAB), which has destroyed millions of ash trees in the Midwest, is making its way to Denver, we leapt into action. There are an estimated 1.45 million ashes in the Denver metro area, including 330,000 in the City and County of Denver. That means that one in six Denver private property trees are ash trees, and they can be found everywhere in the Mile High City – with the majority on residential properties.
You may be familiar with the Be A Smart Ash campaign, which aims to actively educate and enlist the help of you – our City and County of Denver residents – in the process of identifying, treating and replacing ash trees.
For our part, we are taking care of ash trees located on city property (including parks) and in the public right-of-way. We ask that you do the same, with any ash trees on your private property. Visit BeASmartAsh.org for an interactive ash tree map, information about ash tree treatment options and resources to find a tree care professional. You can also apply for a free tree for the right-of-way adjacent to your property that can help bolster and diversify our urban tree canopy.
When it comes to identifying, treating, removing or replacing your trees – ash or otherwise – remember that only licensed and insured tree care professionals should actually treat, replace or prune a tree. There are many tree professionals that are licensed by the Office of the City Forester who can lend a hand, leaving you time to tend to your garden, take another walk or literally just stop and smell the roses.