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Patience sought in Black Forest burned tree removal

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Jul 02 2013 07:43:25 PM CDT

Residents asked to wait a year before cutting down burned trees.

BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn on Tuesday repeated the message from a professional tree trimmer last week, that Black Forest residents shouldn't rush to cut down burned trees after the recent wildfire.

"Wait about a year to see whether your trees are actually going to survive," said Glenn, whose district includes Black Forest.

The advice comes too late for many property owners who have already cut down trees.  Many of those trees weren't completely burned and are being used or sold as firewood.  Glenn said he understands that residents have the right to do what they think is best for their properties.

However, many residents continue to wait for word from their insurance agents on whether policies will cover part or all of the cost of tree removal.  Glenn said he doesn't want erosion -- and possibly flash flooding -- to become a problem if too many trees are cut down at once.

"When people are mitigating, it's good that they're creating defensible space around their homes," he said.  "But we also want to make sure (people) aren't creating a new problem with increasing stormwater runoff."

Glenn said authorities are still evaluating the level of future erosion and flood risk in Black Forest.

Ray Rozak, a resident who lost his home in the fire, said he has cut down dead trees nearest his foundation.  However, he's waiting two years before deciding which remaining trees to remove.

"Mother Nature's going to take care of itself," he said.  "I'm not too worried about erosion as long as everyone's not clear-cutting.  The grasses will come back and the tree roots will hold the soil back."

Glenn said forestry experts are available to evaluate trees on residents' properties.  For more information, send Glenn a message at darrylglenn@elpasoco.com

In a related matter, Glenn said commissioners will hold a meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Mountain Springs Church near the intersection of Black Forest and Woodmen roads.  Glenn said commissioners will provide details about suspending the county's land development code for a year while residents rebuild after the fire.

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