City Trees

September/October 2015

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 11 of 39

With just over 600,000 residents, Wyoming (the "Cowboy State") is the least populated state in the nation yet has an average of over eight million visitors annually. The topography of the state varies from high desert to short grass prairie and alpine forests. It ranks second highest in the U.S. for average elevation and has USDA plant hardiness zones ranging between 3a and 5b. High-elevation communities in Wyoming are subject to stressful environmental conditions that limit the number of species of trees that will thrive. Untimely frosts, early or late snowstorms, alkaline soils, high winds, frequent dry winters, and other changing climate extremes all take their toll on many species of trees. The elevation of cities and towns ranges from 3,600 feet (1097 m) to over 8,000 feet (2438 m) above sea level. With this wide range of elevation comes a wide variation in tree species that grow in Wyoming's communities. A handful of common species that have thrived in these conditions are often overplanted, limiting diversity. Inventories completed in over 40 Wyoming cities and towns have revealed that in some communities, as few as three genera comprise over 75 percent of the trees. Insect and disease outbreaks have taken their toll on the most dominant trees, including ash, spruce, and cottonwood. Emerald Ash Borer is an example of a major possible threat to the state's urban forests due to the lack of species diversity. Many communities are experiencing rapid growth and more landscape ordinanc- es are being incorporated with smart growth planning. Still, landscape designers and nurseries often promote species based primarily on ornamental characteristics exclusively rather than adaptability and hardiness. A desire to have healthy and diverse urban forests is apparent as 43 of the state's 99 incorporated cities and towns are certified as a Tree City USA. In a continued effort to diversify tree species in urban areas, com- munity arboretums are being established in six cities, each representing a different climate regime. In addi- tion, a 63-acre (25.5 ha) portion of a historical USDA horticultural research station west of Cheyenne is in the process of being developed into an arboretum. The Partners Updates State Coordinators Species Diversity and Community Arboretums in the Cowboy State by Mark Hughes, Community Forestry Coordinator, and Molly O'Liddy, Community Resource Forester, Wyoming State Forestry Division Photos Courtesy Wyoming State Forestry Division Volunteers representing eight organizations helped plant the Kendrick Park Arboretum in Sheridan, Wyoming. 12 City Trees

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