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Colorado Springs tree removal program in Union Meadows will continue despite concerns

Published: September 3, 2013, 6:16 pm, by Monica Mendoza


Residents near Winfield Scott open space, off Old Broadmoor Road, were upset about tree cutting.

Residents near Winfield Scott open space, off Old Broadmoor Road, were upset about tree cutting.

There was proof that when trees fell in the city’s forested areas, residents heard it.

City officials heard it too as some residents cried foul over the city’s tree-cutting program in two of the city’s open space areas — one in the Broadmoor area and one not far from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The city’s tree removal program in Union Meadows open space, at N. Union Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway, will go on as planned. Crews are on hold in the Broadmoor area as city officials try to work out a less offensive plan with the neighbors, city forester Dennis Will said. 

There had been concerns raised by residents who live near both parks.

Residents near Union Meadows were upset that large scrub oak trees and other smaller trees were being cut from the 31 acre-open space area that backs up to residential neighborhoods.

Will said tree removal in a dozen parks and open space areas across the city are part of the city’s forest management program. He met with residents, who live near the Union Meadows open space, Aug. 28 at the park and explained the city’s forest management program. Across the city, crews are cutting down invasive trees like the Siberian elm that choke the life out of other trees, plants and grasses, he said. They are removing dead or dying trees that would be easy kindle for a fire. And they are cutting away the smaller, less healthy trees to breathe new life into the taller, stronger pines, Will said.

“We had a nice meeting with about 30 people,” Will said. “They heard it right from the horse’s mouth.”

Other areas where crews are planning to remove trees this month include Cresta open space; Austin Bluffs open space, Sinton Pond open space, Broadmoor Valley Park and Bear Creek Park.

To some, the tree removal program at Union Meadows went too far, cutting trees six inches in diameter. They felt the city could have been more discerning and they didn’t understand the forest management method being applied. Some still are taking thier concerns to the Sierra Club in hopes of stopping the program.

But others who live near Union Meadows applauded the city and said they had been waiting for years for the city to clean out the thick wooded areas ripe for fire.

“We need it,” said Evelyn Koprowski, whose home abuts the open space. “It was too thick – we don’t want a Waldo Canyon issue.”

Koprowski said every few years she calls in a consultant to help her with fire mitigation on her own property. She felt good about her own efforts but just over her back fence the Union Meadows open space was out of control, she said. Last week, she walked through the trail with a neighbor.

“I was ecstatic,” she said. “Wow, this is nice and clean. You can’t say (fire) won’t happen. But, at least there is prevention.”

Residents off of Old Broadmoor Road also raised concerns about the city’s tree cutting efforts in the Winfield Scott Park, 2506 Sycamore St., about 3.6 acres of city-owned open space surrounded by homes.

The city had set aside $1 million this year for about a dozen fuel reduction and resource management projects across the city — including the Garden of the Gods area, Red Rock Canyon, North Cheyenne Canyon and Bear Creek Canyon. Removing dead or dying trees and undergrowth became a priority after the Waldo Canyon fire.

The Winfield Scott Park was thick with Siberian elm trees which take sun and nutrients from the native trees and plants. So, when the city cut them away, the park was stark and residents said it was a shocking difference.

Residents got the tree cutting program stopped and still are negotiating with the city forester on how much should be cut from the remaining area of the park. The city completed work on the east side of Sycamore Street and was prepared to start work on the west side of the road, and park.

“We are still trying to figure out a way to alter our work to more closely align so there is happy medium with what we did not east side and what they can accept for the west side,” Will said.

Will expects to meet this week with the residents who live near the Broadmoor Valley Park, 3750 Broadmoor Valley Road, where invasive Siberians will be cut down.

The park does not have as many invasive Siberian elms as the Winfield Scott open space, Will said.

“This one will be more palatable,” he said.