News Flash

City of Grand Junction News

Posted on: July 13, 2021

City Responds to Threats to the Urban Tree Canopy

Declining ash trees on S 7th St

The City is mobilizing efforts to address threats to the trees in public rights-of-way and other public areas. Increasing pressure from insects and drought is causing severe stress on our tree canopy. To combat these threats, the city is taking proactive steps to mitigate the harm to this vital asset.  

One primary issue we are working to address is damage to Ash trees, which make up 23% of our public tree inventory. Ash trees are particularly susceptible to pests such as the Lilac Ash Borer and the Ash Bark Beetle. Another even more damaging pest, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), has caused severe damage to eastern slope communities.  It is expected they will eventually migrate to the western slope at some point in the future. To combat this, the Parks and Recreation department has taken critical steps to prepare for EAB, including: 

  • Tree injection which involves injecting all good condition Ash trees with a 25” diameter or greater trunk with a treatment that will help them fight off pests successfully.  The picture included reflects a damaged tree.
  • Trunk spray through the summer and fall for smaller trees. While not as effective as injection, it has a more immediate impact on combatting pest mitigation and drought pressure. 
  • Removal of infested Ash trees. Trees may look stable enough to stay standing, but once heavily infested, no treatment can save the tree and removal is required. Removing infested trees also helps to prevent further spread of the pests.

Grand Junction residents can expect to see City crews treating and removing public trees around the community at an increased pace this fall.  Tree planting will also be occurring in locations where there are signs of dedicated stewardship (focused on watering) to replace that which is lost using a diversity of species. The city plants no Ash Trees and strongly encourages City residents to do the same.

Drought is another major issue that is contributing to our declining Ash trees and overall diminishing health of the urban tree canopy. Currently, the Grand Valley is in an ‘exceptional’ drought status, the most severe drought condition. In exceptional drought conditions, dust storms and topsoil removal are widespread and agricultural losses with all plant life are substantial. In response, Parks and Recreation has redeployed some staff, added one new position, and created two additional forestry crews to supplement the one existing crew. These crews will be able to increase the City’s response efforts to meet the challenges created by the drought. Parks and Recreation is also expanding the spray crew to implement the comprehensive spray program, with long-term budget increases currently being evaluated. 

Community members can also take a proactive role in helping to maintain our critical urban tree canopy against drought by regularly watering trees on their property. Watering trees will substantially limit the impacts of dry conditions and mitigate substantial tree loss. With the community’s help, we can protect these natural assets and ensure a healthy, vibrant urban tree canopy. 

Overview of our Urban Tree Canopy

The communities’ urban tree canopy spans 4,650 acres, or 11% of the community. Residential areas contain approximately 62% of the entire canopy in the city, with 19% being in single family detached residential areas. In addition, our Parks and Recreation department maintains over 37,000 public trees along streets, parks, and open space areas. 

Our City’s urban tree canopy is a central part of the green infrastructure that is critical to the community’s quality of life. The tree canopy provides residents and visitors with many ecological, environmental, and communal benefits. 

To learn more about Grand Junction’s urban tree canopy, including statistics, maps, and data tools, please visit the Treeplotter Canopy link here. 

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Contact: Heidi Davidson, Communications Specialist 970-549-5114 or heidid@gjcity.org


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