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Metro Denver trees struggling to recover from November 2014 freeze

In this article from the Denver Post, Dave Paricio, assistant district manager of Davey's East Denver office, talks about what he is seeing while evaluating Denver trees this year. 

Posted: Sept. 15, 2015

By Elizabeth Hernandez

Dave Paricio, a 40-year arborist, is swamped performing house calls for sick, dying trees in the Denver area.

"It really has been the strangest year I've seen in all my time evaluating trees," said Paricio, who is a certified arborist and the assistant district manager of Davey Tree Service in east Denver.

Bark is peeling off. Pine needles and leaves are browning and falling to the ground early. Many trees never produced leaves or fruit. And some trees that are beyond repair are getting the ax altogether.

The root of the problem, according to experts: a sudden, intense temperature drop in November 2014 that damaged trees' cores before they were winter-ready.

In the early fall of 2014, temperatures were as warm as 80 degrees, lulling the trees into a false sense of season, said Colorado State University extension specialist Tamla Blunt.

Then on Nov. 10, the Front Range received a chilling shock when temperatures plummeted from 58 degrees at 8 a.m. to 16 degrees by 11 p.m., Blunt said. Temperatures stayed frigid for nearly a week, chilling trees and people alike to the core.

At the time, the trees were not finished with the hardening process that enables them to withstand winter weather, Blunt explained. Many were instantly flash-frozen, and some would not show signs of damage until spring.

Cherry trees, elms, maples, willows, evergreens and more are now left battling the wounds they received in the 2014 freeze.

Of the 2.2 million trees in the city, Denver forester Rob Davis estimates that tens of thousands are dead from the November frost.

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