This year, Carbondale is expected to hit a pair of mile-markers related to its urban forest: 25 years as a Tree City USA and 10 years of the Kay Brunnier Tree Fund.
“It’s a real landmark,” said Tree Board Chair Dan Bullock. “It’s absolutely amazing that Carbondale is so committed to trees.”
It’s unusual for such a small town to have a board dedicated to the topic, much less a full-time arborist like Mike Callas, Bullock noted.
He estimated that around 250 trees have been planted in parks and public right-of-way over the last quarter century, of which 88 were donated through the tree fund.
Kay Brunnier herself was actually inspired to start the program when her partner, Dr. Will Evans, gave the city $100 to plant a Burr oak in Sopris Park as a birthday present for her.
“I thought that was just a great idea,” she said. “There’s something powerful about planting a tree. It’s giving new life for generations. It’s the expression of elements that I have a connection to — plant, water, soil and sun.”
So she set up a program to cover half the cost of new trees — mostly for memorial purposes but also any other way someone might want to honor someone.
“It’s all ways of celebrating life,” Brunnier said. “I think there’s a basic human need to give back life in some form. There’s a plaque on each that’s made to grow with the tree.”
The Tree Board sets the requirements and selects the recipients, the Town digs the hole — which must have access to municipal irrigation — and the family fills it in.
“It’s a powerful triad that comes together that’s enabled this to happen,” Brunnier said. “On Arbor Day, I try to go to the plantings and meet the people and they’re always so gracious and grateful.”
Carbondale’s Arbor Day is slated for May 4 this year, a bit later than the national celebration due to the unpredictable Colorado weather.
The Town is hoping to plant the fund’s hundredth tree this year — anyone interested can contact Callas at 510-1331 by April 19.
Brunnier sees it as just a continuation of a long
“The early settlers brought trees with them,” she said. “There’s a lot of old trees that are leaving. There’s a generosity of heart thinking of the generations to come.”
“Everybody knows we’re out of balance, so this is helping to bring it back,” she added.