On October 13 2012, 19 University Honors and Leadership
students hiked through the Goose Creek Trail into the Lost Creek Wilderness to
raise money for trees. Donors pledged money for every mile hiked by the UHL
students. At the end of the day, they raised $1,546 to buy trees with.
After months of
planning and correspondence, the UHL program decided to work with the
of the Upper South Platte to buy and plant trees in the Hayman burn area on April 27. Once
a mixed group 36 students assembled, along with two parents and two
supervisors, they got a safety talk from CUSP about how to plant trees and be
safe. Some of the tips included how not to use your shovel, wearing a hard hat
in case a tree falls, and if we needed to use the bathroom in the woods, not to
be within 15 feet of the creek bed.
The tree planting involved students digging a hole a foot
wide and a foot deep, adding liquid polymer to help retain water, placing the
three year old tree in the hole, and packing the soil around it. However, the
students were not planting in wide open terrain. Instead, they were planting by
the slopes of a Forest Service road, stepping over dead trees and “shindigger”
yucca plants. They had to drive their shovels into gravelly dirt, sometimes
cheering each other on in hopes of creating the hole faster.
Often times, a rock stopped a would-be hole and the students
had to move on to another.
The best spot to dig a hole had to be shaded in the
afternoon and not around other live trees in order to give the saplings a
chance to survive.
“If a UHL student falls in the woods, does anyone hear it?”
one student asked as they moved down the steep hill, slipping on some of the
“More like if a UHL student falls in the woods, does anyone
care?” appended another, who later got her leg assaulted by a sharp, pointy
Separated into groups of eight, the band of tree planters
managed to plant a total of 305 trees. As they all walked down the dirt road to
where their cars were located, they took turns pointing out dirt smudges for
each other. Underneath the hardhats and sunglasses, everyone looked exhausted
Planting trees by the roadside will help secure the road
from mud and debris. Without the group there to plant, the CUSP volunteers who
led each group (of which there were only five) would have had to plant all the
trees themselves. Though planting saplings will not instantly lead to forest
recovery, it did give students a chance to enjoy a part of Colorado that is not
as visible in the city of Denver.