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Do you have snow-damaged trees? Your city may help out

Published November 14, 2012 7:44 am

Snowstorm • Other residents will have to clean up on their own.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The weekend storm that pummeled areas along the Wasatch Front claimed scores of victims: trees that were bowed and then broken by the weight of heavy snow, often aggravated by leaves that were still clinging to branches.

For many homeowners, the debris is too large to stuff in a garbage or green waste can. Can they expect help from public works departments?

In hard-hit Bountiful, where 31 inches of snow fell on benches over the three-day storm, residents can haul debris to the curb for the next couple of days for pickup by city crews, said Gary Blowers, superintendent for streets, sanitation and landfill.

But residents of unincorporated Salt Lake County are on their own when it comes to debris disposal.

Patrick Leary, public works director for the county, said residents can call 385-468-6101 for help with downed branches that are blocking sidewalks or are otherwise posing a safety issue. However, the crews will simply clear the hazard, leaving it to homeowners to dispose of the debris.

Leary said if there was enough demand, the county would consider making large containers available for debris. But "to be honest with you, we haven't had requests for that," he said.

In Salt Lake City, where 21 inches of snow fell in the Avenues, residents can place storm-related tree debris on the curb for free pickup Nov. 19-21. A city news release specified that only tree debris will be collected, and must be piled in such a way that it doesn't post a hazard to pedestrians, drivers or cyclists.

Residents can report any hazards related to storm damage to the Parks and Public Lands Division at 801-972-7800.

Provo, meanwhile, is hoping to enlist volunteers to help residents handle debris from the storm, with United Way of Utah County ready to play matchmaker. Residents who need help can call 211 for more information. The city's Public Works Department also planned Tuesday to place trash bins in several locations around Provo where people can dispose of yard waste for free during the week. Locations of the dumpsters are listed on the city website, provo.org.

"Both city crews and property owners are facing major cleanup work from last week's storm," said a news release quoting Provo City spokesperson Helen Anderson. "The city typically picks up debris on public property, such as power lines and city streets, and property owners are responsible for what's on their property. But we know some will need help. … This would make an excellent family, youth, or student service project."

To report debris on public property, call Provo City's Customer Service Division at 801-852-6000 or 311.

In neighboring Orem, damage was light, according to city spokeswoman Charlene Mackay.

"The city of Orem didn't receive nearly as much damage as other cities," she responded via email to an inquiry about storm debris.

"We received two calls from private citizens about downed limbs in their yard. Unfortunately the city of Orem is not able to remove limbs from private property at this time, so we referred them to where they could dispose of the yard waste for free."

Calls to the public works department in Cottonwood Heights, which reported 25 inches of snow over the weekend, were not returned on Tuesday.

Homeowners left to their own devices can either prune the damaged trees themselves and dispose of the debris, or call a certified arborist.

Katie Wagner, a member of the Utah State University Extension horticulture faculty in Salt Lake County, said broken limbs should be removed to prevent pests and disease from invading the tree. Large limbs are more difficult to handle, naturally, because of their weight.

"Unless you know how to prune, you can cause more damage," she said.

Small limbs can be removed using a so-called three-cut system: The first wedge-shaped cut is made on the underside of the limb, about a third of the way through to control tearing and away from the juncture of the branch to the trunk. The second cut is made on top further out along the limb from the first to equalize the weight of the wood. The final cut should be made just outside of the swelling where the branch connects with the trunk or a larger limb.

There's no need to cover the cut; it will seal naturally, Wagner said.

She also recommended removing snow from limbs that are bowed but not broken to prevent tearing. —

Do it yourself

O See a tutorial on how to properly prune a damaged tree branch. > tree-pruning.com