GUNNISON—Arbor Day took place in Gunnison Friday, which the city celebrated by planting seven trees in Gunnison City Park.
The public works crew, led by director Donald Childs and also consisting of Pancho Cejudo and Wyatt Scott, planted all seven 15-foot-tall trees in one day. They are Hackberry trees that will grow to 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide.
Stella Hill, the Gunnison councilwoman who oversees the park, said they were selected because they are beautiful, disease free, drought resistant, hearty and fast growing at 24 inches per year.
The seven trees were purchased and put in place in the park as part of a long-term plan to replace the 85-year-old cottonwood trees that line U.S. 89 and are beginning to die. These significantly tall trees have lined the park for more than 85 years, and their shade has been a welcome respite for travelers and locals, and an important asset to city-park events.
One of the large cottonwoods situated next to the “Welcome to Gunnison” sign is scheduled to be removed next week. This follows a windstorm in which a large branch broke off to show the core of the tree to be deteriorated and unstable. The city’s plan is to grow the new trees in a row behind the old trees. That way, when the other large, old cottonwoods wither in the next five to ten years and have to be removed, there will be a line of well-developed trees ready to take their place with substantial height and shade.