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City Staff Assessing Tree Damage Caused by Early Season Snowstorm and Asks the Community to Be Cautious Around Damaged Trees

The City of Boulder has experienced an early fall snow event that is resulting in significant damage and debris from falling tree branches, affecting both public and private property.

Community members are asked to stay off the Boulder Creek path from 17th Street to Eben G. Fine Park. A large number of trees have fallen blocking the path. In addition to icy conditions, tree branches continue to fall. Crews will begin clearing the path as soon as it is safe.

City snow crews have been active since the storm began and will continue to monitor conditions closely.

The City Forestry team is currently assessing damage to public trees caused by the snowstorm throughout the city. The scope of the damage will be determined over the next week, with trees being cleared based upon priority. Broken and/or hanging branches still up in trees are a higher priority than branches on the ground due to the potential to fall unexpectedly. City staff and contractors will work together to address the most immediate public safety concerns, such as broken, hanging branches, blocked streets and multi-use paths.

The City’s Forestry Division manages approximately 50,000 public trees in city parks and street rights-of-way and asks the community to report any hanging or broken branches in public trees via Inquire Boulder (click on Trees and Landscaping, then Public Tree Issues.).

Please include the following information so staff can prioritize and respond promptly to your request:

  • Name & phone number
  • Exact address of the damaged tree / branch
  • Site ID of tree (visit Online Public Tree Map)
  • Estimated diameter or size of the broken / hanging branch.
  • Is the branch on the ground or is it still in the tree? If it’s in the tree, is it still attached or free hanging?
  • Is branch hanging over sidewalk, street, parking, house, etc.?

The City Forestry team does not care for trees on private property. Arborists working on either public or private trees in Boulder must be licensed through the city. A list of city licensed arborists is available at: BoulderForestry.org (scroll down and click on Licensed Arborists).

Homeowners could be faced with having to take actions to protect and repair their trees and should first assess the situation to avoid hurting themselves or further damaging the tree.

Review the following tips for dealing with snow-damaged trees:

  • Check for hazards. Before approaching a tree, examine your surroundings to avoid contacting downed utility lines or standing under broken, hanging branches.
  • Contact city staff if necessary. Trees between the street and a city sidewalk may be the responsibility of city crews.
  • Assess the damage. If a tree is healthy overall and still possesses its leader (the main upward branch), most of its major branches and 50% or more of its crown, the chance is good for a complete recovery.
  • Be careful knocking snow off branches. This may cause the branches to break. If you must remove snow, gently push up on branches from below to prevent additional stress.
  • Remove broken branches. This minimizes the risk of decay and insects or diseases entering the wound. Prune at the branch collar - the point where a branch joins a larger one - and be mindful of potential pent-up energy if the branch is twisted or bent.
  • Don't over-prune. With the loss of some branches, a tree may look unbalanced, but most trees quickly grow new foliage that hides bare areas.
  • Don't try to do it all yourself. If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead, sawing from a ladder or removing large branches or entire trees, contact a licensed arborist. 

Options to dispose of branches from private property include:

  • Place branches that fit inside curbside compost collection bins. Branches may also be bundled: bundled branches must be no more than 6 feet long, 3 inches in diameter and cannot weigh more than 35 pounds. All materials outside of the cart must be in compostable bags and/or branches must be bundled to avoid extra charges.  Residents should consult their trash service provider for specific instructions. This debris will be collected as part of the city’s curbside compost collection program on the regularly scheduled collection day for that property.
  • Take tree branches to Western Disposal, located at 5880 Butte Mill Rd.
  • Contact a licensed arborist to pick up or chip branches.

For more information about the City of Boulder’s Forestry Division, please visit BoulderForestry.org.

Media Contacts:
Jeff Haley, Planning, Design and Community Engagement Manager, 720-648-0197 
Shannon Aulabaugh, Media Relations, 720-484-9903

Published: Sept. 9, 2020