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Hundreds of Denver trees damaged in spring snow storm

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DENVER (KDVR) — A snowy Friday morning turned into a messy Friday afternoon across Denver as trees buckled under the weight of the spring storm. 

“About a month ago we made it through three feet of snow and we had very few calls,” Deputy Executive Director at Denver Parks and Recreation Scott Gilmore said. “Low and behold last night we get about six inches of snow but it was heavy and wet.”

The city received more than 160 calls for downed trees on streets and sidewalks following the snowfall. According to Gilmore, that is unusually high for the amount of snow that fell. 

“Luckily the trees hadn’t leafed out. If it was maybe another three weeks from now it would be probably three times that number,” Gilmore said. 

Areas with older trees, like Denver’s Capitol Hill and City Park neighborhoods had the most damage. Many large branches fell in yards and streets. A few smashed parked vehicles. 

“Our little boys were very excited to run to the window and see a huge casualty,” Denver resident Rosemary Pesko said. 

Friday, Denver’s 12-person forestry team began work on what will likely be a week-long cleanup process. They are focusing on trees blocking the right of way or threatening the safety of pedestrians or vehicles. 

“They’re actually cutting branches to make sure that they don’t drop on the street and injure someone or cause an accident,” Gilmore said. 

Once that work is complete, they can work on removing downed branches, limbs and full trees that do not pose an immediate threat. There is a large tree blocking a road in City Park, for example, that Gilmore does not anticipate crews will get to for several days. 

“We will keep that road closed probably til next week sometime when we can remove that tree,” he said. 

While the volume of damaged trees is cumbersome, Gilmore says the public can often be the biggest challenge when it comes to cleanup. 

“The neighbors along Montview, 17th Avenue, 6th Avenue, some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city, feel that they can drag their branches to the middle of the parkway and leave them for the parks department to clean up,” he said. 

According to Gilmore, after a storm like Denver saw Friday, the parks department will often find piles of broken branches on parkways and other public areas transported from other areas. 

“Property owners are responsible for pruning and cleaning up debris from trees located on private property and within the public right of way adjacent to their property. DO NOT relocate branches to parkways or other public areas,” Denver Parks and Recreation said in a press release. 

Denver residents can break down branches no larger than four inches in diameter into lengths of four feet or less. Bundles must be tied and weigh no more than 50 pounds. Up to 10 bundles may be put out on extra trash collection days every eight weeks or branches can be dropped off at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off center. 

If a tree is blocking a road and needs emergency removal, Denver residents should call 311. 

“The city will evaluate and prioritize the removal of the obstruction, and when necessary, the city will remove the encumbrance, and the cost of the work will be billed to the responsible property owner,” Denver Parks and Recreation said. 

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