A city tree damages a woman’s fence, but she won’t get help paying for the repairs

COLORADO SPRINGS — Trees add to the beauty and character of many of our Colorado Springs neighborhoods. City foresters attempt to manage approximately 150,000 street trees across the city. Sometimes these trees can break or fall causing damage to nearby homes, and getting the city to pay for repairs is not always an easy request.

In the Old Colorado City neighborhood of Colorado Springs, the streets are shaded by colorful treetops. Some of the trees along the street belong to the city. A longtime homeowner says she is in a quandary after a large section of one of the trees fell near her home.

“I was sitting on the back deck and all of a sudden I heard a bang and I went forward and there was a tree over my fence, which obviously came from the city tree. I looked up and you could see where the branch had broken off,” said Colorado Springs homeowner Marie Mueller.

Mueller has lived in this Old Town Colorado neighborhood for two decades and says the timing of this disaster couldn’t come at a worse time.

“My husband passed away a year ago and suddenly the money stopped, everything stopped. I’m on Social Security, so funds are limited,” Mueller said.

After the tree was removed — she was left with a broken fence — unsure of how to handle the situation, she reached out to News5 to find out what to do next.

“I’ve always been a responsible homeowner and I want to continue to be,” Mueller said.

While the fence is in disarray, News5 helped Mueller file a complaint with the city’s Office of Risk Management. Unfortunately for her, the city’s tree experts say that in this situation, the city will not pay for the repair.

“If we don’t know about the tree and we don’t know there’s a risk that needs to be taken care of and the branch fell off the tree like in this case, those damn Siberian Elms will do that and the Tree looks pretty good and it falls and damages a fence or a car or whatever, risk management says no, it’s an act of nature that’s not our fault for not taking care of it,” said Colorado Springs City Forester Dennis Will.

Mueller is not alone in facing the challenges of having a city tree near her property. The 15 employees at the Colorado Springs Office of Forestry are always busy with these kinds of concerns, and things will only pick up in the next few months.

“Typically we’ll get 100 to 200 phone calls a month and of course it’s a lot different during the spring and winter storms that we have,” Will said.

Mueller says he’ll see if he can get help from his insurance company to fix the problem and urges neighbors to keep an eye on city trees to try to stay ahead of a situation like hers.

“Take care of some of this because the only other option is to remove the trees, and that’s not a good option,” Mueller said.

News5 understands that some of our viewers may find themselves in similar situations with city trees near their properties. Here are some important links and contact information to help you.

Colorado Springs Forestry website:


Telephone number: (719) 385-5942

Office Address:

1401 Recreation Way

Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Risk Management in Colorado Springs

(To submit a claim for city tree damage)

Phone: 719-385-5960


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