Saturday morning I worked my butt off planting tree seedlings in Breckenridge. All of the Lodgepole Pine trees in Summit County have been hit hard by the pine beetle plague, and in many areas the percentage of dead trees is 80 - 90 %. The town of Breckenridge opted to clear-cut the Discovery Hill open space of all the Lodgepole Pines and replant with a mix of Bristlecone Pine and Englemann Spruce seedlings, which mixed with the remaining young Lodgepole Pine seedlings would made for a healthier, diverse forest.
My husband and I volunteered Saturday morning on a work crew of about two dozen people, including four Breckenridge trails department employees who trained us and kept us in line. In two and a half hours, we managed to plant 250 seedlings and water every single one. The photos below are from that morning. The first one shows me with my work gloves and shovels, poised to dig another tree hole. The second shows the watering operation.
Some of the trees were able to be watered from a long hose that snaked up the hill from a water truck. On the higher sections of the hillside, though, buckets of water had to be lugged up (by the young male volunteers) to the planted trees. The third photo shows me standing on the trail, with two teens approaching, the last one lugging water.
For every seedling we had to dig a hole 2.5 times the diameter of the root and dirt core and a little longer, then repack the dirt around the seedling. Then we had to create a berm downhill of the seedling to retain rain water and mark it with a colored flag (shown in the second photo), so another set of volunteers could come back on Tuesday to water them again.
Hopefully these young trees will thrive and in ten years or so as people walk along the trail, they will have shade. The stacks of cut lodgepole pine trees will be burned later in controlled burns, so we didn't plant any new seedlings near them. It was a good feeling to contribute to a job well done, and we were given tickets to that evening's Bluegrass Jam concert to boot!
Engaging yourselves in an environmental awareness activity is really an act that should be shared with others. It is a good deed indeed for many of us inhabitants of the planet earth. I hope lots of people will mirror this act and also share it to youngsters.
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