ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. — In Elbert County, there’s a race to save as many trees as possible before the county removes them from public roadways. County officials told Denver7 they’ve grown unchecked for way too long and it’s now become a public safety concern.
Long-time resident Gayle Segreto is not ready for a change of scenery about to take place around her home near Elizabeth. She’s not going anywhere, but some of the trees in the area are.
“They take shelter under these trees, so it’s important to the wildlife,” said Segreto, referencing the deer on her property. “It’s like something out of a magazine to see something beautiful, like a canopy of trees. I call it the cathedral walk. It’s gonna be gone in a few days as opposed to just trimming the branches out of the way.”
County officials said the trees on their easements have grown out of control for too long, blocking the right of way on public roads, covering road signs or growing in ditches, all creating safety issues for school buses, road maintenance and flood mitigation.
“Why don’t we trim some branches and save the tree?” said Segreto.
Segreto is not alone. Other residents, like Ron Korsch, are upset to see the bright orange spray-paint marks for removal on several trees.
“I don’t know if I have the option of trimming the branches myself. I haven’t had that conversation. If it is, I’ll do it,” said Korsch.
Korsch is willing to help keep these trees alive on his own, but doesn’t know if that’s an option and neither does Elbert County manager Sam Albrecht. What Albrecht does know, is the county is in catch up mode after years of deferred maintenance.
“The tree is in our county logo. It’s an important part of the county. We love our trees,” said Albrecht.
But public safety, Albrecht said, is the number one priority and the county’s responsibility is to make sure the trees don’t get in the way of it.
For now, Segreto hopes they can figure out a compromise.
“So we are asking for reasonable prudence taking down the trees to make it passable, to make it safe for the school buses.”