Arbor Day’s history dates back to the late 1800s in the arid, flat landscape that was then Nebraska Territory. When land-seeking pioneers began to move west and settle the Great Plains, they quickly realized that something important was missing: trees.
J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor and tree enthusiast, suggested there should be a day dedicated to planting trees. The original celebration was set for April 10, 1872, and three years later Arbor Day was officially a legal holiday.
National Tree Day is now celebrated annually in all 50 states on the last Friday in April.
Aspen Valley Land Trust is partnering with Wilderness Workshop to celebrate 55 years of conservation and stewardship on Arbor Day this Saturday at the recently purchased Coffman Ranch in Carbondale.
“One of the great traditions when we (Aspen Valley Land Trust) were founded was an Arbor Day tree planting celebration in downtown Aspen,” said Carly Bolliger, director of AVLT communications and engagement. “It’s kind of an ode to that.”
The free event will invite guests to help plant two apple trees and a ponderosa pine as part of the first stage of the Coffman Ranch restoration project.
“We try to honor and recognize the importance of local plants and trees and the relationship they have to this community and this region,” ranch manager Brian Hightower Coffman said. “We plant two types of trees that have very different purposes, but both have an important history here at Carbondale.”
The ponderosa pines on the west end of the Coffman Ranch property date back several hundred years. A few even survived a fire in 2008 that swept across the valley floor just outside Carbondale along the Roaring Fork River.
AVLT acquired the 141-acre ranch in August 2021 from longtime ranchers Rex and Jo Coffman with a vision to make it an outdoor education location for local schools and nonprofits while protecting and improving riparian and wetland habitat and maintaining a historic cattle ranch.
“We hope to take this opportunity to talk about the purchase of the land and let people know where we are and what is happening as we continue to work to create a healthier and safer community space than we will eventually be able to open to the public. “, said Bolliger.
AVLT is working with an arborist to develop the master plan and vision for Coffman Ranch in hopes of establishing an orchard as well as regenerating the beetle grove.
“Part of that will hopefully be some type of orchard; we would like to have fruit that would grow well here,” Bolliger said.
In addition to helping plant trees, guests will be able to participate in a number of Arbor Day stewardship projects and activities at the ranch.
“Customers will learn how to measure a ponderosa just by looking at it and how to determine its age,” Bolliger said. “They will also learn about different poplar stands and different soil types and what is best for something like a working ranch.”
Attendees are encouraged to carpool or preferably bike to the ranch using the Rio Grande bike path, as parking is limited.
“Spring is an exciting time and especially this year because everyone is kind of excited and ready to get together,” Bolliger said. “This is just our kickoff for Wilderness Workshop and AVLT, as we both have pretty full event schedules for 2022.”
The event is open to the public but guests are asked to pre-register at http://www.avlt.org/arbor-day.
Visual reporter Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or [email protected]ostindependent.com.