A vehicle drives around a large tree limb blocking the southbound lane of North Institute Street at East Monument Street last week in Colorado Springs.

Residents hauling piles of branches ripped down by last week’s snowstorm have been seen driving around road closure signs to illegally dump their loads in a Colorado Springs park, Gazette news partner KKTV found.

Since the May 20 storm, city crews have stashed fallen vegetation from public spaces — including rights of ways, medians, parks, open spaces and trails — at Cottonwood Creek Park. The city’s Forestry Division has received nearly 2,000 calls and online submissions with reports of uprooted plants.

The park site is not open to the public, nor is the city allowed to clear litter that originated from private land. Those caught using unauthorized sites face a $60 fine.

But that hasn’t stopped several people from maneuvering around the roadblocks and traffic cones, KKTV reported.

City forester Dennis Will said the unsanctioned sites could take weeks to chip and clear. Such a project will divert some of the city’s 17 forestry employees from removing hazards from public areas.

“It will take us months, probably to the end of the year, to get to your street or avenue to clean up tree slash,” he said in a YouTube video.

The city is mapping what streets it clears, he emphasized, and crews will assume that debris reported after they’ve swept an area is private.

Residents who need to dispose of downed debris can contact one of 45 licensed tree service companies.

Twitter: @lizmforster

Phone: 636-0193

Liz Forster is a general assignment reporter with a focus on environment and public safety. She is a Colorado College graduate, avid hiker and skier, and sweet potato enthusiast. Liz joined The Gazette in June 2017.

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