LOOK: A vigil for doomed trees at City Park Golf Course

Activists held an end-of-life vigil for doomed trees, a somber protest that marks a new dimension for activism around this project.

A vigil for doomed trees at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Christine O'Connor (left) and Bridget Walsh carry candles into City Park Golf Course to leave memorials for doomed trees, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) city park golf course; protest; trees; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; skyland;
Christine O’Connor (left) and Bridget Walsh carry candles into City Park Golf Course to leave memorials for doomed trees, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

As dusk fell on Sunday evening, a handful of Denverites who oppose the City Park Golf Course redevelopment plan gathered to mourn for the 230 trees that are marked for removal. They lit candles despite blustering winds and carried flowers to the doomed trees, some of which are very large and old. Construction on the course is set to begin on Nov. 1.

The somber protest marks a new dimension for activism around this project. While much of the discourse around the project has centered around the golf course itself and larger environmental justice issues, this new protest introduces concerns about more localized environmental impacts to air and soil quality and wildlife heath.

A vigil for doomed trees at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) city park golf course; protest; trees; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; skyland;
A vigil for doomed trees at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Organizer Kim Shively said in a press release that this was a “final plea” to the city to save the trees. She said the loss of such large foliage could worsen an urban heat island effect and affect local bird populations.

About 260 trees will be removed for the project. The city plans to plant about 600 to 700 new trees on the course, which would replace the lost canopy coverage in about a decade, according to city staff.

Denver District Court Judge David Goldberg agreed in a ruling last week that while the city was taking a “thoughtful approach,” the removal of the mature trees would be “materially detrimental to the habitat and the neighborhood” and could take decades to heal.”

A data portal on the website Climate Central ranks Denver as having the third “biggest difference between urban and rural temperatures” due to the urban heat island effect. The tool says Denver is 23 degrees hotter than surrounding areas.

Activists say they plan for funeral-like action at 6pm on Nov. 1. They’ll meet at the golf course parking lot at 26th Avenue and York Street.

This story was updated with new information on the number of trees to be removed.

A tree marked for removal at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) city park golf course; protest; trees; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; skyland;
A tree marked for removal at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Available candles for a vigil for doomed trees at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) city park golf course; protest; trees; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; skyland;
Available candles for a vigil for doomed trees at City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Christine O'Connor (left) and Bridget Walsh carry candles into City Park Golf Course to leave memorials for doomed trees, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) city park golf course; protest; trees; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; skyland;
Christine O’Connor (left) and Bridget Walsh carry candles into City Park Golf Course to leave memorials for doomed trees, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Bridget Walsh leans on a doomed tree in City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) city park golf course; protest; trees; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; skyland;
Bridget Walsh leans on a doomed tree in City Park Golf Course, Oct. 29, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.