Public Street Trees
A public tree needs help
If a tree is compromised or touching a power line, STAY AWAY from it and keep pets/children away. Report immediately to Colorado Springs Utilities at 448-4800.
For city trees in parks, open spaces, medians, or along trails, sidewalks, or streets, please report the following issues:
- Damaged, declining or dead trees from drought, insect and disease
- Overgrown branches obstructing visibility of traffic or school signs, or around corners at intersections
- Broken or downed limbs due to extreme weather conditions
- Branches interfering with private property - driveways, roofs, fences, vehicles
- Branches hanging too low over the street or sidewalk
- Structural failure - significant trunk damage, cracks, or lean
The fastest and most effective way to report tree issues is online:
How long will it take to have the work done?
Work tasks are assigned a priority by the inspector based on the severity of the issue. Typically, the inspector will leave a card or contact you to provide an approximate time for completion.
How do City Forestry's inspectors prioritize street tree maintenance?
- Large dead or broken hanging limbs over parking areas, buildings or structures, or pedestrian areas.
- Clearance over street or sidewalk that impedes the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic. City Code requires at least 14ft clearance over streets and 8ft clearance over sidewalks.
- Blocked visibility (on corners or trees blocking signs). Forestry regulations state that no tree shall be planted within 40ft of an intersection, and that any vegetation (shrubs, decorative grasses, etc.) within that 40ft should be kept below 30 inches in height. This allows for visibility when entering or exiting the intersection.
Is there a regular pruning or maintenance schedule for street trees?
Our current budget does not support a regular pruning schedule. Instead, we respond to citizen requests. You may request work by filling out an inspection request online.
Who do I contact about trees near electric lines?
Colorado Springs Utilities has a regular pruning cycle to prune larger trees away from the electric lines in the alleys and streets. If you have questions about pruning of alley trees near electric lines, please contact Colorado Springs Utilities at (719) 448-4800 and ask for line clearance. Phone and cable lines are not maintained by Colorado Springs Utilities or City Forestry.
Who prunes the trees in the alleys?
Homeowners are responsible for maintaining shrubs or weeds in alleys. Often, the large trees in alleys are the result of previous homeowners not maintaining or removing volunteer saplings years ago. If you have questions about pruning of alley trees near electric lines, please contact Colorado Springs Utilities at (719) 448-4800 and ask for line clearance.
Who maintains trees in parks and open spaces?
City Forestry manages trees in neighborhood parks. Trees in open spaces or along trails are managed as natural areas, which means that parks crews or forestry will remove identified hazards, but will not perform regular pruning or down limb removal. Certain areas may be managed during large scale projects for fuels mitigation or forest restoration practices.
Who is responsible for the shrubs or weeds in the right of way in front of my house?
Homeowners are responsible for maintaining shrubs, weeds, and landscaping in the city right of way. This also includes “volunteer” weed tree sprouts such as elm or aspen that, if allowed to grow, could grow to be very large and may damage the curb, gutter, sidewalk, and other infrastructure.
A public tree needs help sooner than City Forestry can respond
Unfortunately, limited resources often prevent City Forestry from responding to requests as quickly as we would like. For more immediate work, or for additional pruning (i.e., aesthetic pruning or deadwood pruning of small branches under 2” in diameter), you may obtain a free City Forestry Permit and hire and pay for a licensed tree service to do the work. The permit is required and a licensed tree service will help you with the inspection and permitting process.
City Code 8-3-302 requires a license for persons operating or engaging in a tree service business for hire.
Can I prune the tree myself?
To ensure tree health and to avoid dangerous situations, City Code requires either City Forestry or a licensed tree service to perform work on a city tree that is over 15ft tall.
Trees on Private Property
Maintaining trees on private property
City Forestry does not conduct maintenance of trees on private property. This is the responsibility of private property owners.
Here are some definitions that might help:
- Street Tree: A tree located within the public right of way.
- Right of way (R.O.W): The city-owned area of land designated for streets, sidewalks, and public use. It includes the parkway between sidewalks and curbs. Where sidewalks are attached to curbs, the R.O.W. extends a distance into the property. The exact distance varies from street to street.
You can locate the property lines between the City and private property by looking up your address on the SpringsView mapping application.
- Use the top right search bar to type in an address or cross street.
- Be sure to select Aerial view at the bottom left.
- City trees are those that are in the city right of way outside the red private property lines.
Who do I contact if I am concerned about a neighbor’s tree?
City Forestry cannot assist with private tree work. We recommend consulting with a licensed arborist and communicating with your neighbors. If you are having difficulty resolving a dispute, contact the El Paso County Court’s Neighborhood Justice Center at (719) 520-6000.
Reporting tree damage after a storm event
During major storm events, it is helpful to know the approximate size and length of the limbs, and if they are blocking access to buildings, sidewalks, or streets. This helps our crews prioritize and manage the storm event. Forestry crews will respond as time and resources allow. In large storm events, homeowners are expected to dispose of smaller limbs and debris. The fastest and most effective way to report tree issues is online.
Emergency tree and limb removal
What if a city tree or a limb from a city tree falls into the street?
Request a street tree inspection or contact City Forestry. If it is an emergency, call the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Dispatch at (719) 444-7000.
What if a private tree or a limb from a private tree falls into the street and is blocking access?
Request a street tree inspection or Contact City Forestry. City Forestry may clear the obstruction from the road but it is the homeowner’s responsibility to remove the debris.
Private yard waste disposal
You can drop off your own yard waste (leaves, tree clippings, etc) at Rocky Top Resources, located at 1755 E Las Vegas Street. For more information call (719) 579-9103.
There is no public dumping location associated with City Forestry.
Reporting Other Issues
Infrastructure damage or accessibility issues
Bushes or vegetation are growing over a sidewalk and blocking access
Because homeowners are responsible for maintaining shrubs and weeds in the city right of way, you may contact the homeowner or contact Code Enforcement to resolve the issue by filling the Neighborhood Services Code Enforcement request form or call (719) 444-7891. Select Option 4.
If there is a tree within the city right of way that is contributing to a blocked street or sidewalk, contact City Forestry or request a street tree inspection.
My sewer line has tree roots in it
Roots in a sewer line are often indicative of a faulty or aging sewer line. Tree roots should not break apart or damage sewer lines that are newer (PVC pipe with synthetic rubberized sealant). Typically, older clay lines have joints that may allow water to seep out. Roots will take advantage of this and grow between the joints. This may be mitigated by having an older pipe cleaned occasionally, or by replacing the sewer line with PVC. Removing the tree will not fix the leaking joints of an older sewer line, and Forestry does not typically remove city trees for sewer issues. However, when a homeowner is actively repairing or updating a sewer line through excavation, and the construction area is within the major root zone or trunk area of the tree, the City Forester will do an inspection and make a determination regarding removal of the tree.
My sidewalk is heaving due to tree roots
Submit a sidewalk damage report or contact Public Works at (719) 385-5411 and have them assess the damage and prepare possible solutions. In the event of minor uplifting, sidewalks can be ground down to minimize tripping hazards. Where major uplifting has occurred, Public Works will often contact City Forestry to look at the root structure exposed during repairs and determine if roots may be cut without significant harm to the tree, or if the tree requires removal.
Tree injury or disease
Animals are damaging my tree
If deer are rubbing against trees, consider using temporary fencing. For questions involving wildlife inhabiting trees, contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife at (719) 227-5200.
My tree looks unhealthy
Visit our Common Tree Issues page to explore common tree health issues.
If you have a problem that can’t be identified, or if more than one tree is showing the same symptoms, it may be time to call a licensed professional.
Check with your county Extension Office with tree questions, and there is also a website called Plant Facts Database that has a searchable database of fact sheets from Extension services across the country.
Another valuable resource is the Colorado State Forest Service.