DENVER (CBS4) – The Front Range is a week into spring and trees are starting to sprout new leaves, but some of them are still feeling the effects of an early winter. And with wildfire season around the corner, it could create problems.

Colorado evergreens this spring are showing what some call winter bronzing or freeze damage. It’s the result of a cold snap that occurred in November. As wildfire season approaches it has firefighters watching closely.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

For more than a decade CreekSide Tree Nursery In Boulder has supplied trees to cities all over the Front Range, and lately they’ve been getting a lot of calls.

“All of the surrounding cities have called — all of them,” owner Shannon Von Eschen said.

Von Eschen says nearly all the questions are the same.

“People are calling and saying, ‘What’s happening to my evergreen tree? It’s turning brown, it’s probably dying,’ ” she said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Von Eschen says the brown that’s showing dates back to early November when Colorado temperatures went from fine to freezing overnight.

“It shocks the trees so bad,” she said.

Many trees were flash frozen, and now that spring has arrived the damaged and dead trees are what’s left. Experts say it has increased the amount of dead fuel on trees which can catch fire. However they say native mountain pines are more dense than in urban areas and were not hit as hard — meaning that although fire danger is raised modestly, the bulk of the damage is in urban backyards.

RELATED STORIES: Colorado Wildfires Story Archive

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“If all the way to the tip-top of the tree is totally brown, or that bright bronze color, it’s a little bit iffy if the tree is going to come back,” Von Eschen said.

The Colorado State Forest Service says that although the health of Colorado trees plays a factor in the severity of wildfire season, the real indicator will be the rain and weather.


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