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The Park People Celebrates Earth Day by Adding 1,400 Trees to Denver’s Urban Forest

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Hayley Kwasniewski
/ Categories: Denver Digs Trees

On Earth Day, Denver’s urban forest gained 1,400 trees as hundreds of new tree owners picked up their baby trees at Denver Digs Trees’ City Park and Sloan’s Lake Park distribution sites and hurried home to plant them. 

As they grow, these trees will give Denverites reason to remember and celebrate this year’s Earth Day for many years to come by making our city greener, cooler, and more beautiful while also saving $225,000 in energy costs, storing eight million pounds of carbon, and managing 52 million gallons of stormwater.   

Best of all, 63% of the new trees found homes in the low tree canopy neighborhoods where they are needed the most. Building up the tree canopy in those areas has long been The Park People’s primary focus. To encourage and enable tree planting, The Park People offers trees for only $10 to residents of 28 low tree canopy neighborhoods. Twelve percent of this year’s tree recipients qualified for “treeships,” which allowed them to receive free trees. 

Picture Dscription: Resident ready to create a grove in their low-canopy neighborhood.

Although Denver Digs Trees distribution day is a day for celebration, it is also the culmination of months of planning and hard work by The Park People’s staff. Preparations for this year’s distribution began in August as The Park People decided which tree species to offer and identified potential funding sources. From that start, the myriad steps necessary to plant 1,400 trees in hundreds of yards quickly followed, including designing, publicizing, and implementing the tree application process, selecting, purchasing, and transporting trees from their Oregon birthplace, recruiting, organizing, and directing hundreds of volunteers, and coordinating with multiple partners.  

Volunteer activities began in earnest after the New Year. Braving ice and snow, 88 volunteers collectively donated 243 hours going door-to-door in low tree canopy neighborhoods to inform residents that they could apply to receive high quality trees for only $10 and, for those who qualified, for free. After the application process closed on February 15, 29 Community Foresters conducted site inspections for a combined 119 hours to make sure that property owners who had applied for trees to plant in their stretches of parkway could satisfy Denver’s permit requirements. Then, 229 volunteers spent 996 hours helping on Earth Day. 

Picture Description: Volunteers celebrate their time at Denver Digs Trees 2023.

Actually, notwithstanding the excitement and gratifying results, the 2023 edition of Denver Digs Trees did not end with tree distribution. In September and October, Community Forester volunteers will be visiting the trees distributed on Earth Day in their new homes to see how they are faring. By then, preparation for Denver Digs Trees 2024 will already be well underway. 

In addition to The Park People’s staff and its volunteers, there is one more group that is absolutely critical to the success of Denver Digs Trees. Making high quality trees available at a steep discount or even for free would not be possible without the generous support of The Denver Foundation, Xcel Energy Foundation, Swire Coca-Cola, Denver Parks and Recreation, Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability & Resiliency, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Denver Water, Oz Architecture, Living Room Real Estate, and Angels Envy.  

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