A large branch from a cottonwood tree snapped and fell last Wednesday evening on South Main Street, temporarily blocking traffic in Mancos. At the exact same time, town trustees were appointing new members to the tree board.
"Excuse me, we're having a meeting," Mayor Rachel Simbeck, warned when former Mancos Tree Board member David Blaine interrupted the appointment proceedings.
Blaine nodded, citing there was a "major emergency" involving a large three-foot diameter cottonwood branch that had fallen just moments before because of gusty winds.
"These aren't limbs; these are trunks," Blaine proclaimed.
Days prior to last week's town trustee meeting, branches from the same cottonwood tree fell from 217 Main St. across the roadway from Blaine's daughter's home at 214 Main St. The tree damaged a vehicle and a fence.
"This is all pretty timely, considering we are trying to get our Tree Board back," said Town Administrator Andrea Phillips.
Established in 1987, the Mancos Tree Board has been inactive since 2010.
"The trees are ... rotten and falling apart," Blaine told town trustees.
When on the tree board, Blaine said an arborist in the 1990s identified approximately a dozen trees that needed to be taken down.
"I'm willing to bet anyone here, right now, $50 bucks, that those two trees are on that list," Blaine wagered.
Under town code, property owners are required to manage nuisance trees and assume all liability. Blaine suggested the town initiate a 50/50 share program to encourage property owners to remove trees like the cottonwoods in question.
"It's in the interest of the town to take care of matters like that, so no one gets hurt," Blaine warned.
Trustee Queenie Barz questioned how the town can force property owners to be liable for trees on public right-of-ways, considering the cottonwood trees in question were planted by former property owners more than 100 years ago.
After some discussion, trustees instructed the town marshal to move forward with removing the trees.
"Since the cottonwood trees were determined to be an emergency, we went ahead and had them taken down," said Andrea Phillips. "We are assessing the homeowner for the cost."
In regard to the new Tree Board appointees, three individuals wrote to officials expressing interest in serving. Town code requires tree board members to be Mancos residents, but trustees voted unanimously to make an exception in order to allow certified arborist Matthew Besecker to serve. Others appointed to the Tree Board last week include former board member Victoria Lewis and home inspection business owner Holly Rankin.
"These look like very well-qualified people," said Mayor Simbeck.