Driving around in our beautiful Town of Erie it’s easy to pass scenery by and while we may admire it, we don’t necessarily think twice about it, unless you’re the parks department. Our Parks team works hard to keep Erie looking “better than new”! It would take a novel, or maybe several to go into everything our Parks team does to keep Erie looking healthy, vibrant, and the place we love to live. One of the most exciting projects is the tree nursery that our Town Forester, Patrick Plummer, oversees. So here “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,”-Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.”
Our tree nursery can hold about 100 trees. Where smaller trees are bought and placed into the Town’s nursery for a year or two until they’re big enough to plant in our parks or at town facilities. This system allows the Town Forester to buy more trees with available funds. The trees brought to the nursery are about 3/4” to 1” in trunk diameter and cost between $50-75 each. Once the trees grow to 1.5” in diameter, they can be planted in parks. Depending on the species, this can take from 1-3 years. Purchasing trees at 1.5” in diameter cost 2-3 times more than what the smaller trees cost.
Our nursery allows for unusual or rare trees that just aren’t available in the larger size. “This is the more fun aspect of the nursery. One of the things that my predecessor prioritized is creating a species diverse urban forest, and I want to continue that mission.” Patrick Plummer explains how with the nursery, he is able to try out different species to test their viability in Erie. Some of the successful species are Chinkapin Oak, Catalpa, Kentucky Yellowwood, and the Amur Maackia.
The biggest challenge is making sure the trees survive the winter. The earliest that they will start planting the trees in parks and at facilities is mid-March. “My predecessor has learned that a couple of species of trees that were untested in Colorado actually do pretty well here. He learned this by bringing in trees to the nursery and seeing how the responded to our climate. Because of his efforts, Kentucky Yellowwood and Amur Maackia are much more widely planted along the Front Range.” Patrick explains about some of their biggest accomplishments.
So the next time you’re driving around the Town’s parks and facilities take an extra moment to admire the trees and the unique species that have been brought to this wonderful town. “It may seem small and insignificant but it’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” –Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”