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State of the state: Briefs

Thousand Cankers disease threatens walnut industry

When a tree falls in the urban forest, people hear the sound. And when one becomes hundreds, entire cities take note, and mobilize a coalition of forestry experts.

Thousand Cankers disease is attacking black walnuts, and cities from Pueblo to Longmont are suffering losses. Walnut twig beetles (Pityophthorus juglandis) carry a fungus, Geosmithia morbida, into branch and trunk, which the fungus kills with thousands of rotting wounds, called cankers.

"Slowly but surely, this is eliminating black walnuts here in Colorado," said Dr. Ned Tisserat, Colorado State University professor of plant pathology and disease discoverer. "It's hard to know the final outcome, but the real threat is outside our state, to the billion-dollar black walnut timber industry." Nut-producing walnuts appear resistant.

States across the Western U.S. have pockets of the disease, now found in four counties near Knoxville, Tenn., as well. Within Colorado, costs of takedown - between $200 and $300 per tree - are growing. Identified in Boulder and Colorado Springs in 2008, Thousand Cankers has resulted in the death of 60 percent of the walnuts in Boulder and has spread to Denver, Longmont, Pueblo and Canon City. - Carol O'Meara

Businesses and students honored as ‘sustainability champions'

Aircraft Service International Group, Fruita 8/9 School and Xcel Energy were honored with the Colorado Sustainability Champion Award during the CORE Sustainable Opportunities Summit in April.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Environmental Partnership partnered with Connected Organizations for a Responsible Economy (CORE) to present the awards.

A team of judges from around the state and CORE selected the winners from dozens of entries, examining how each team met criteria for the environment, economy, innovation, society and education.

Aircraft International, the winner in the small category, operates and maintains the fueling system at Denver International Airport. Its energy-saving project included the construction of a solar array next to the DIA fuel farm.

Fruita 8/9 School, winner in the medium category, was recognized for transforming a modest recycling program into a comprehensive energy-efficiency plan and a student blog about sustainability that attracts Web traffic worldwide.

Xcel Energy's Green Facilities Team, the winner in the large category, was honored for its sustainable-building initiative and the eight teams working on ways the utility giant can reduce its impact on the environment.

ColoradoBiz featured stories on the nine finalists in a special section in the magazine's March issue. Read more at www.cobizmag.com.



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