Two weeks ago, after thoughtful consideration and much deliberation, the difficult decision was made to remove the iconic blue spruce that has grown in front of our office since the 1940s.
Our blue spruce in 1948 (left) and again in 2023 (right).
The tree in front of 429 S. Howes Street and Park Lane Towers, early 1960s (left) versus 2023 (right).
Standing nearly 100 feet tall and weighing approximately 25,000 pounds, this massive spruce has been the focal point of our landscaping since Dwight Sailer and Bryan Soth bought our office in 2003.
HighCraft founders Bryan Soth and Dwight Sailer in front of the HighCraft office in 2003.
A bird’s-eye view of the massive spruce in 2021.
Unfortunately, the tree was planted too close to our building back in the 1940s, and the arborist told us that 30% of its root system was constricted by our building, and another 50% of its roots were struggling to grow under the concrete of Park Lane Towers. Options were discussed to save the tree, but the arborist was concerned with the recent weather patterns and signs of advanced rot, and felt the potential for the massive spruce to come down in a windstorm was significant.
Because members of our team worked within ten feet of the tree, and residents of Park Lane Towers were also in harm’s way, the risk of a catastrophic accident was simply too high. HighCraft owner Dwight Sailer took the decision to heart, and ultimately made the call to have it removed out of an abundance of caution.
Last month, Dwight met with the manager at Park Lane Towers about the situation and informed him of our difficult decision. After the decision was made, a well-orchestrated plan was put into place.
This tree was nearly 100 years old, and the decision to remove it was not taken lightly. The tree has been a notable feature in front of our office and in Old Town for so many years, even former owner Bryan Soth stopped by to say goodbye before it was removed.
The project was so large, Howes Street was temporarily closed as the tree was removed in three large sections by crane.
This was a massive undertaking, carefully executed by the team at Fine Tree Service. The removal required a small army of workers, including a crane operator and a harnessed arborist who was lowered into the top of the nearly 100-foot tree.
The compilation video (above) shows the scale and complexity of the project.
After the spruce was taken down, we confirmed severe root rot underground. Dwight reached down to feel the extent of the rot.
The rot gave no resistance and extended well past the length of his entire arm. When the stump grinding began, the root system simply disintegrated.
As conflicted as we felt, and as much as it saddened us to lose it, we feel that Dwight and the arborist made the right call in recommending the removal of our tree.
Freddie Haberecht, a Senior Specialist in the Forestry Department at the City of Fort Collins, agrees. When interviewed by Retro 102.5 FM last week, Haberecht said that even though this wasn’t a city project and the tree wasn’t located on city property, he spoke with one of the arborists who removed the sick spruce. “It sounded like there was a decay pocket at the base that was concerning enough to have the tree removed,” he said in the interview. “It is always sad to see a big tree like that go but safety is the number one concern.”
You can read more in “Timber! Enormous Colorado Evergreen Cut Down for Town Safety.”
To honor our tree, we saved the main trunk, which will be dried and milled into timbers. We plan to use the lumber to build a memorial bench for our office, as well as a trellis that will be donated to the local nonprofit Hearts and Horses, a therapeutic riding center.
This week, we planted a new blue spruce to replace our old tree. We plan to enjoy watching it grow for many years to come!
To view the growth of our original blue spruce over the years, and the changes in our Old Town neighborhood, check out historic photos in “Our Building’s History.”