What’s New – Excerpts from Spring 2013 Earth-Wise Newsletter

All Dried Up

Precipitation in 2012 was the lowest the Roaring Fork and Vail Valleys have seen since record-breaking drought conditions in 2002. According to the Colorado River District, 2012 was the third driest year on record for the Upper Colorado River Basin. With two years of extreme drought capping the ends of a dry decade, the area’s plants and trees are particularly stressed and weak. This clearly poses a threat to farmers and ranchers, but it also has implications for homeowners. Many of the region’s most pervasive landscape pests specifically target weakened hosts. Because this winter has not (as of yet) brought enough snow to alleviate stressful drought conditions, we strongly recommend that homeowners hand water their trees and shrubs this spring in order to keep them as resistant as possible to potential attacks. This can be done with a deep root needle, by placing five-gallon buckets with holes punctured in the bottoms throughout the root zone, or by moving a garden hose throughout the root zone. Trees should be watered at least 10 gallons per diameter inch of trunk and timed to provide necessary moisture after the ground has thawed, but before irrigation systems have been turned on. Your trees and shrubs will thank you!

Earth-Wise is Fire Wise

As we know, the incidence of wildfire is increasing as the summers get longer and much of the country deals with drought. Overall, fire is a positive force in our forests and grasslands. It removes weaker trees, reduces understory brush, creates better spacing in the forest and leaves only the strongest barked trees to spread their genes. It also allows some conifer species to reproduce, as high temperatures are required to open the cones and disperse seeds. However, for over 100 years we have suppressed fire in order to protect timber resources, our homes and the natural beauty around us. This has led to overcrowding of similar aged trees and the build-up of understory fuels. Add the current drought and climate change, and we have the ingredients for a dangerous 2013 fire season.

Proper maintenance of your landscape greatly increases the likelihood of your home surviving a wildfire. Creating “defensible space” around your home gives firefighters a buffer to do their job. Defensible space is created by reducing the fuels around your home by selectively removing trees and understory brush and trimming over-grown vegetation. Good defensible space, along with a less flammable roofing material, are the two most important factors that determine whether a house survives a wildfire. Earth-Wise can prune and remove trees and shrubs and remove ladder fuels to create defensible space while maintaining the aesthetic value of your landscape. Please contact us for more information or to make a plan for your property to be more “fire wise”.

Colorado Drought Map