They provided shade for picnickers and sanctuary for birds and other critters for a century, but the time had come for the end of four dying cottonwoods in City Park last week.

“It’s always sad when an older, mature tree reaches the end of its life, but for the safety of the public it’s necessary to get these trees removed as quickly as possible before they become a safety hazard,” City Forester Katy Hallock said.

During a strong wind storm last summer, several large branches with open cavities dropped from the trees. Cavities in branches and trunks are a sign of internal decay and indicate that a tree is dying, Hallock said.

“A typical plains cottonwood lives 70 years, but in ideal conditions can live 120 years; we estimate that these four trees were somewhere around 100 years old,” she said.

So last week, the city's parks division removed the four trees, which will be replaced in the spring as part of the Arbor Day celebration, Hallock said.

Most tree removals take place in the winter as replacement can take place quickly in the spring.

Hallock said residents should monitor their older trees for signs of declining health including:

  • Curling and discolored leaves.
  • Branch die back.
  • Peeling or damaged bark.
  • Hollows in the trunk or branches.
  • Insect presence.

“We realize that not everyone can identify these issues, so the City of Casper offers free yard calls to its residents; we are always willing to provide guidance prior to you paying for or doing work yourself,” Hallock said.

To request a yard call, visit the city's website  or by call the parks division at (307) 235-8283.

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