Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation has been awarded a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) in partnership with the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYSA) to address the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive beetle species that feeds on ash trees.
EAB has been identified in neighboring Arvada and is likely in Wheat Ridge as well. The plan submitted for the grant was based on the Colorado EAB Management Planning Guide and included recommendations from the neighboring cities of Arvada, Edgewater, and Lakewood.
Currently, Wheat Ridge has 700 ash trees on city property, located in parks and open spaces, along trails and right-of-way (ROW) areas. The city uses the TreeKeeper software program to track all trees on city property.
The $41,800 grant funds work by Mile High Youth Corps conducted in a four-week period to address the spread and infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer in the community. Prior to the Youth Corps arriving on-site, the city will have all ash trees mapped out so the Corps can efficiently move from tree to tree to check for EAB and begin mitigation efforts.
The Youth Corps will assess city ash trees for EAB, place signs on ash trees to expand the “Watch Your Ash” awareness campaign, install EAB traps, treat infected trees that can be saved, and remove ash trees that are beyond saving. The signs will mark the tree as an ash tree, give a brief description of what EAB is and what symptoms to look for, list the Parks, Forestry & Open Space Division phone number to call if EAB is suspected, and include a QR code that will link to our webpage on EAB. Traps will be installed in ash trees to prevent the beetle from infecting trees as well as assisting in tracking the spread of the beetle. Preventative treatments will be injected in healthy ash trees and in those lightly infected. This treatment goes directly into the tree (no spraying involved) and is contained in the tree to minimize potential contamination of the surrounding area. Finally, removing ash trees will involve chain saw crews safely removing the tree and transporting it to a centralized, quarantined collection site owned and managed by the city.
In conjunction with this project, the City will conduct outreach to assist residents with ash trees on private property.
Funds for this project are provided to the Colorado Youth Corps Association for use by accredited conservation service corps. The goal of the program is to employ youth and young adults throughout the state on critical outdoor recreation and land conservation projects in partnership with local governments and open space agencies.
In 2021, 250 jobs for youth and young adults will be created with $1,000,000 in GOCO funding awarded in December 2020. GOCO receives a portion of Lottery proceeds each year to invest in outdoor recreation and conservation projects. With this funding, critical land stewardship projects throughout the state will be completed by young people.