Red Mountain homeowner finishes off most remaining trees that interrupted his view
Apparently in one Red Mountain neighborhood, the way you work things out with neighbors who don’t want the trees in front of their homes cut down is, well, you do it anyway.
Four months ago, the downhill side along a 100-yard or so stretch of Ridge Road on Red Mountain had tall evergreen trees marked in orange, others in blue, and some that by then were fresh, up to 20-inch diameter stumps. Now the orange and blue marked trees are stumps, too, improving the view of Aspen Mountain from the home on the uphill side of the street.
“All of our trees were cut down (a few days ago). It’s a very sad sight,” said Lise Evans, a homeowner who had trees in front of her property cut down. “It’s a violation of nature.”
These islands of trees between Ridge Road and driveways of four homes may look like they belong to those homes, but they aren’t on private property. They are part of a right of way owned by the Ridge of Red Mountain Homeowners Association.
Phillip Huffines, a Texas resident who purchased the Ridge Road home in 2020, funded the tree cutting that opened up the view from his house to the ski slopes — his rationale that cutting the trees also increased parking spaces on the quiet road and helped protect against wildfire, according to an email obtained by The Aspen Times in January.
A dense field of scrub oak on a steep slope at the top abuts the rear of the home. The cut trees across the street in front, some up to 60 years old, until recently stood well cleared of ladder fuels and in most cases along a green grass strip between asphalt road and concrete driveways.
According to Evans, neighbors along the downhill side are now growing worried that the trees in the right of ways in front of their homes will share the same fate as those directly across from Huffines’ home. Some have already been approached about removing some of those trees.
In January, Ridge of Red Mountain HOA Director Ryan Warren said Huffines’ application to remove the trees was approved with a few caveats. First, Huffines needed to contact all the neighbors who would be affected and inform them of his plan. If there were any objections, he was required to work them out with his neighbors. Additionally, he had to obtain a county permit to remove the trees from the right of way, which he did.
Lise Evans is one of his close neighbors.
Huffines’ curious fire mitigation efforts are independent of the efforts by the HOA in August and September 2022. Last July, homeowners on Ridge Road decided to raise fees to allow for immediate wildfire mitigation within the HOA. This took place at an HOA meeting where the vote to increase fees was unanimous.
The fire mitigation funded by the HOA removed smaller brush and foliage, known as ladder fuels to firefighters. Ladder fuel allows for wildfire to more easily climb into the canopies of larger trees, which otherwise are resistant to flames at their bases.
The biggest obvious threat to Huffines’ home is the field of unmolested scrub oak on the slope that runs to within a few feet of the back walls. To the front is a large grass lawn free of trees that might block the view, along with those cut down across the street.
To reach Audrey Ryan, email her at email@example.com.