A hedge against erosion

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West Adams Conservation District to offer trees, advice

By Gene Sears

Chances are, if a weeping willow on a small acreage is flourishing, its roots have found the septic system. If a newly planted aspen clump collapses with the first hot wind, most likely it won’t live through the summer.  
    Tree mistakes such as those are especially frustrating for owners of small acreages who, year after year, watch their dream of lush landscapes shrivel to expensive sticks. It’s possible to grow trees on the plains of Adams and Weld counties, but the secret is matching trees to microclimates, soil, water and altitude.
    Recognizing the proliferation of small acreages in the area, and the problems of getting trees to survive and thrive on them, the West Adams Conservation District is offering bundles of native and adapted seedling trees and bushes for sale to owners of as little as one acre  of land. The small trees, ranging in size from 10 to 30 inches, are grown at the CSU Forestry Nursery in Fort Collins. This year the nursery is supplying conservation districts with an expanded assortment of flowering and fruiting varieties, including northern apricots and wild rose bushes.
    Conservation districts began selling trees for windbreaks and erosion control shortly after being formed, in response to the Dust Bowl, in the late 1930s. Trees were chosen for specific climates and farmers were encouraged to plant two or three rows of different types of trees. Usually the mix included pine, cedar or juniper to act as year-round barriers, deciduous trees such as poplar or locust, and sometimes, shrubs like lilacs and chokecherries. Homesteads and fields across the plains are still nestled within the shelter of those windbreaks, but they are reaching the end of their life spans and will need to be replaced to continue to stop winds.  
    Like the longer windbreaks on farms and ranches, rows of trees on small acreages will help stop wind erosion, while providing privacy screening and wildlife habitat.
    According to District representative Rosalie Everson, WACD has sold hundreds of thousands of seedling trees over the past six decades, including 12,000 last year. More than 40 types are sold in lots of 25 to 50, depending on size, and variety.  The district also sells grass seed mixes.
    Order forms are available now at the Natural Resources Conservation Service office at 57 W. Bromley Lane (north of Agfinity) in Brighton, along with free booklets showing many of the varieties and the growing conditions in which they do best.
    For more information or questions please call Jennifer Tucker, Small Acreage Coordinator for Adams County, at 303-637-8157.