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Trees among Yucca

Planting trees in the Hayman burn area

Rachel Jones holding baby trees
Rachel Jones holding baby trees

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
Coalition 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 gravel.

“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 yucca plant.

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 but happy. 

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.

University Honors and Leadership Program

Phone: 303-315-7838 • Fax: 303-315-7836

Street Address: 1047 Ninth Street Park • Mailing Address: Campus Box 199, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364


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