Rain & Shine: Planning for Green

Nov 2, 2020

Credit Adam Smith

Here on the western slope we have been blessed with a combination of warmth from the desert combined with steady streams of water that flow down from the mountains in our rivers. This lovely combination makes our area agriculturally rich and abundant, allowing us to grow crops that cannot be grown anywhere else in the Rocky Mountain region.  But living on the edge of a desert means it's all too easy for us to become a desert too!

As individuals, and as a community we can make choices that slow how fast our landscapes dry out. Fast wind, dry air, strong direct sunlight, and hot temperatures all increase the pace at which land and plants lose water, or increase what scientists and farmers call evapotranspiration. When a landscape loses water it heats up even more creating a feedback loop of hot and dry that means more water and more energy have to be used to keep things green and cool over time, this feedback loop results in desertification. 

Big trees of any kind are the biggest buffer we have to slow down evapotranspiration. They keep the surrounding area cool and reduce evaporation rates. A study done in Cheery Creek Denver found that increasing tree canopy by 40% would lower peak daytime temperatures by 11 degrees! Trees have a whole host of other benefits too, they clean the air, slow down wind and feed the life in the soil that surrounds them. They also consistently increase individual property value, making them a great benefit for both individuals and our communities. 

CITATIONS & STUDIES

Energy Conservation Potential of Urban Tree Planting, US Forest Service

ITree, Calculator

Top 22 Tree Benefits, Tree People

Plant a Better Future, Xcel Energy