Some states elect wrestlers, others movie stars. But in Colorado, we’ve elected a brewer. Ok, yes, before that he was a geologist, but for any gardener who’s toiled under the blazing sun cutting a soon-to-be garden bed, well, a skill in brewing up cold, frosty beverages is more useful than being able to say that those rocks are limestone, granite, or gneiss. Leave that conversation for after you’ve relaxed in the shade.
As John Hickenlooper is sworn in as the 42nd Governor of the state, I hope the man who launched the Million Tree Initiative in Denver takes that philosophy across the state. Think of it – if an area the size of greater Denver can hold a million new trees by 2025, can’t he pack a few more into the state, until we become so thickly forested that we resemble Connecticut instead of Colorado?
Sadly, the answer is no, as anyone traveling the eastern or western borders of our state can attest. It turns out we can’t really plant wall-to-wall trees, despite what bona fide treehuggers like myself want. We’re limited by water, something trees need to grow big and strong. On those borders I haven’t seen anything much larger than a shrub living outside of the towns.
But a gardener can dream about taking over the planet with big, hulking vegetation, and trees are a gateway plant to other garden treasures. Their shade keeps us cool, their branches support our children’s swings; the only thing I have against them is that they harbor squirrels who pilfer from my garden (it could be worse – if it gets much colder in portions of Florida, they’ll have those iguanas dropping from the trees again).
True, the Governor will have his hands full with the state budget, and yes, creating jobs, shrinking government and promoting the state are all worthy of his immediate attention. But as long as he’s appointing a cabinet, toss in a tree czar – he can appoint an Ent to the position.
Then the tree czar can get to work encouraging people to plant this spring, which is right around the corner. There’s plenty to do, what with the new Front Range Tree Recommendation List being unveiled at ProGreen in February, The Colorado Garden and Home Show (also February), and planting starting in March.
- The John Hickenlooper Exception (nytimes.com)