Big branch falls in Aspen; neighbor criticizes city
October 5, 2012
ASPEN – A blast of wind Thursday afternoon caused a 2-foot-thick cottonwood branch to crack from the tree’s main trunk in Aspen.
It tore through a fence and came to rest against a parked vehicle and a small boat in the alley west of South Garmisch Street between Hyman and Cooper avenues.
The incident might seem insignificant to some, but not Terry Hale, a longtime resident of the nearby Aspen West complex.
The area where the branch fell is near Koch Lumber Park. Not long after it crashed to the ground, a group of young children got off a school bus less than 100 yards away.
“Cottonwoods are not strong,” Hale said. “They’re dangerous. This branch could have killed someone.”
He said that many times he has asked the city of Aspen to trim back the branches on the cottonwoods so that they don’t threaten to damage private property or people using public streets and alleys, to no avail.
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“The city insists on protecting the cottonwoods,” Hale said. “They’re pretty but not sturdy, and they drink too much water.”
He pointed to several cottonwoods in the neighborhood with large branches that dangle over rooftops, vehicles, streets and alleys.
“Those branches just go. That’s what they do. You can talk to any tree guy in town, and they’ll tell you the same thing. I’m not making up something to make a point,” he said.
Hale added that cottonwoods are a better fit for riverbanks and forest areas. Many urban communities have banned them because they lack stability, he said.
Chris Forman, the city’s forester, could not be reached for comment late Thursday afternoon.