By Debbie Bell
The Daily Record
Canon City, CO (June 14, 2007)- Aquila put some bite into its bark Wednesday as employees dug into their jobs to branch out with a “tree-mendous” new program at Harrison School. The energy company demonstrated its commitment to the environment and to the communities it serves with its new “Power of Trees” program. Harrison school students joined employees to plant five purple ash trees at the school in the local kick off for the ongoing program.
“Anyone who thinks there’s nothing they can do to nurture and protect the environment is, well, barking up the wrong tree,” Aquila said in a press release. “This is just the start,” said Joe Jenkins, Aquila’s man in charge of the Power of Trees program in Colorado. “We have already planted hundreds of trees in five states – nearly 1,000 trees.”
Partnering with local volunteer groups throughout its five-state service territory to plant trees, Aquila hopes to bring the “foliage factor” to light in sustaining the environment, improving the landscape and conserving energy. “The goal here is to get the program growing and just not stop,” Jenkins said Wednesday morning. “Hopefully, as we grow the program, we’ll do more here next year.”
Aquila chose to plant purple ash trees because they are drought resistant, hearty in the wind and display beautiful changing colors throughout the fall. “This is a gorgeous location,” Jenkins said. “This is a really nice opportunity to come out and help.”
Jenkins said the trees were purchased from the local Seufer Tree Farm, which gave a 30 percent discount for the project. Harrison School was chosen in Canon City because the new school was the perfect location for the project.
“The average tree will, in its lifetime, consume one ton of carbon dioxide, and it creates life-sustaining oxygen in the process,” said Dave Atwood, Aquila’s operations manager in charge of the tree planting project. “Our desire with this program is to work with our communities, improve the environment and empower people to do something meaningful to improve their own hometown.”
Throughout its five-state service area, Aquila is planting trees in parks, on school grounds, new public spaces and other areas where the trees will serve to help offset the effect of greenhouse gases. “Trees help to purify our air by absorbing pollutants from fossil fuels,” Atwood said. “Trees also help stop erosion, cool the areas they shade to cut cooling costs, and improve neighborhoods by providing sound barriers and acting as habitat for birds and other wildlife, even in urban settings.”
The Power of Trees program is more than a one-day event, Atwood said, serving as an ongoing opportunity to spread the news everyone can participate in nurturing nature. “We are providing information on the benefits of trees as well as how to plant and care for them,” Atwood said. “It is our hope that these important messages will be spread into the community for everyone to share.”
Aquila provides natural gas and electric service to about 900,000 customers in five states including Colorado. The company actively seeks better ways to generate and distribute electricity and provide natural gas service to those customers, and currently is exploring the use of bio-diesel for generating electricity. The company also assists individual customers and commercial businesses with solar and wind alternatives to help offset the cost of power and reduce greenhouse gases. Aquila already provides wind energy in Missouri.
Canon City Daily Record