Highlands Ranch was named as a Tree City USA for the 21st consecutive year in 2011. The National Arbor Day Foundation awards the designation to communities that spend 2$ a year per capita on tree preservation and trimming and have a dedicated forestry office among other considerations.
This year, the Metro District of H’ Ranch was featured in Tree City USA’s annual report. Here is the text of that description.
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Since the Wild West days of the 1800’s, the high plains of Colorado have held an important place in American history. Today, some of that ranch land near Denver is growing homes and businesses. One of these places is Highlands Ranch, a 22,000-acre master-planned community south of Denver founded in 1981.
From the beginning, the role of trees was recognized and made part of community planning. Highlands Ranch has received the Tree City USA award for 21 years and in 2008 was honored with a Tree City USA Growth Award. “The Highlands Ranch Metro District recognizes the importance of a strong urban forestry program, and we believe it’s a wise investment for our community,” said Metro District General Manager Terry Nolan. “Although we are a relatively young community, from the beginning we have maintained a strong commitment to trees which we believe significantly enhance the appeal of the community by the many benefits they offer.”
While some communities cut back on educational efforts in 2008, Highlands Ranch showed their commitment to urban forestry and the future by providing continuing education for staff and public education for homeowners. For example, two key employees were sent to a Backyards & Beyond Education Conference to learn more about fire-safe landscaping and to help move the city toward becoming a Firewise Community as well as a Tree City USA community.
Other investments for the future included the purchase of GIS field and office equipment. According to Dennis Donovan, forestry supervisor, the purchase will not only improve the city’s tree inventory, it will help track maintenance needs and create maps for contractors and field technicians.
In the first year alone, Dennis said, “Maps were created for in-house treatments of striped pine scale on Scots pine and contracted control of Kermes scale on oak, as well as tree watering locations.”
Funds were also invested in the control of invasive Russian-olives. A major thrust was the development of educational programs for landowners to recruit help with an eradication program that will allow native plant species, bird populations, and all varieties of native wildlife to flourish.
– Courtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation