Tips for Salida Trees Damaged by Recent Snow

edited February 2015 in News

SALIDA, Colo. — On Feb. 11, Salidans awoke to a heavy snow that damaged many trees. Although the snow was at best a foot deep, a high moisture content strained the strength of tree limbs, causing them to break.

The tree species that suffered most was Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila. Siberian elms are drought-tolerant, fast-growing trees that in the past were planted in locations experiencing tough growing conditions, including Salida. When the last city tree survey was taken in 2000, Siberian elms represented 39 percent of the city-owned tree population.

The Colorado State Forest Services encourages landowners to assess tree damage before determining what remedial action to take. The publication “Caring for Storm-Damaged Trees” is available at the Salida District office, located at 7980 W. Hwy 50, or online at under the heading “Publications.”

This publication covers different assessment factors to consider such as tree health, age and location, and the quantity and type of broken branches. Recommended actions include:

  • Check for hazards before approaching a tree.
  • Contact city officials if necessary (for trees between the street and a city sidewalk).
  • Remove any broken branches to minimize the risk of decay and insects or diseases entering the wound, but don’t over-prune.
  • If the job requires running a chainsaw overhead, sawing from a ladder or removing large branches, contact an insured, certified arborist. To find an ISA-certified arborist, visit

“Fast-growing trees like Siberian elms are desired by city residents, but they have a drawback: weak wood,” said Kathryn Hardgrave, assistant district forester on the CSFS Salida District. “This characteristic is exacerbated by poor pruning.”

Residents with trees damaged high in the canopy may be tempted to “top” them, but that only sets the trees up for future failures. The new limbs that sprout from the topped branches will not be as strongly connected as the original branches. As the new limbs get larger, they are more likely to break out of the tree during high winds or heavy snow. Topping also increases the likelihood of wood decay.

The Colorado State Forest Service phone number is 719-539-2579.

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