While it's not quite the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program, it's a nice gesture with a clear mission: get the most polluting cars off Colorado roads.
If you're a Coloradan who owns a pre-1990 car, donate it to the Clear the Air Foundation and the ReForest Colorado program will plant a tree in an area affected by natural disasters or in another location that needs tree cover.
You will also receive a tax credit for the value of the donated vehicle, which the Foundation sends to an auto scrapyard for dismantling and recycling.
Working with the 130 members of the Colorado Auto Recyclers, the Foundation ensures that the car and its emissions are removed from the roads forever. The engine and body are destroyed, though smaller parts may be resold.
That distinguishes the program from other charity auto-donation schemes, which usually resell even the oldest and most polluting cars, keeping many of them on the road.
Donors can take the same tax deduction for vehicles given to the Clear the Air Foundation as they would under any charity donation scheme.
Any money earned from selling the cars to scrappers is donated by the foundation to support aid to Colorado citizens with respiratory conditions and to fund scholarships for students interested in automotive and technology fields.
Launched at last month's Denver Auto Show, the "Trees For Trade-Ins" program is one initiative from the Clear the Air Foundation. The tree-planting offer is aimed at attracting consumers to donate their old cars directly to the foundation; it already receives dealer donations of cars acquired through trade-ins.
Clear the Air was founded by the Colorado Auto Dealers Association in 2010 to remove 1,000 high-emitting vehicles each year from the state's roads, along with promoting state reforesting efforts.
A single "gross polluting" vehicle can produce as much tailpipe emissions as 100 new cars today, which is why California and other states have programs that target the oldest vehicles still in daily use. (Classic and collector cars typically log very low annual mileage, so their overall impact is far lower.)
The initiative is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation. It also, of course, likely helps to sell new cars in the process.
So far, the foundation has removed 200 high-emissions vehicles from the roads of Colorado--all contributed thus far by auto dealers, not individuals.