The Park People – a local environmental nonprofit that advocates for Denver’s parks, recreation resources and urban forest – is gearing up for its annual tree distribution effort. This tree distribution effort, aptly named Denver Digs Trees, provides Denver residents with free or low cost trees for planting in the public right-of way. The Denver Digs Trees program addresses Denver’s critical need to expand its urban canopy and is the only city-wide tree distribution program. Denver’s current canopy coverage is 10.4%; recommended urban canopy coverage guidelines for U.S. cities west of the Mississippi is 25%. (Time Magazine, 6/21/07). The Denver Digs Trees program – in partnership with the City and County of Denver, numerous local community nonprofits and neighborhood groups – is working to address this deficit in our urban canopy. The program has added over 35,000 trees to Denver’s urban forest.
Residents benefit from the Denver Digs Trees program in numerous ways. Planting trees improves the quality of Denver’s air. According to a February 21, 2007, Denver Post article, Denver has been dealing with alarmingly high levels of particulate pollution. Fine-particle pollution is linked to heart disease, lung disease, asthma and poor lung function among children and annually results in thousands of premature deaths. Increasing the city’s tree canopy increases the leaf surface area that can capture and trap particulates. Strategically planted trees can also reduce energy costs. In addition, healthy, mature tree canopies intercept storm water, reducing the impact on overtaxed city drainage systems. Increasing tree canopy in neighborhoods does not simply provide environmental benefits, but also substantial economic (higher property values, increased retail activity) and social benefits (lower crime rates).
This year the Denver Digs Trees program will be offering ten different varieties of trees to interested Denver residents. Our 2009 Tree Roster includes Bur Oak, Corinthian Linden, Green Mountain Sugar Maple, Magyar Ginkgo Biloba, Regent Japanese Pagoda Tree, Turkish Filbert, Green Vase Zelkova, Kentucky Coffee Tree and two smaller ornamental varieties – the Winter King Hawthorn and the Summer Splendor Tatarian Maple. The deadline for submitting an application for a street tree is March 16th, 2009. Trees will be available for pickup at a distribution site on Saturday, April 18, 2009.
On average, each tree costs The Park People over $100; thanks to program sponsorship, trees will be available to most Denver residents for just $25. In 21 of Denver’s neighborhoods- neighborhoods which are significantly undercanopied, street trees are free. These neighborhoods include: Baker, Barnum, West Barnum, Chaffee Park, Clayton, Cole, Elyria-Swansia, Five Points, Globeville, Jefferson Park, Lincoln Park, NE Park Hill, Ruby Hill, Skyland, Sunnyside, Sun Valley, Valverde, Villa Park, West Colfax, Westwood and Whittier. Denver residents interested in receiving an application or in getting involved in our program should contact Program Manager Robert Bond at 303-722-6262 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program manager, Denver Digs Trees