The Delta County Historical Society board of trustees met in emergency session Aug. 10 and concluded by unanimous vote that the Ute Council Tree must be cut down. A portion of the base trunk will be left standing as a memorial.
After a giant limb crashed to the ground Aug. 1, the historical society hired a consultant from the Davey Tree Expert Company of Loveland to assess the damage and the future health of the tree.
The arborist's report alerted the historical society to the "extreme danger of a major event where the remaining branches in the crown of the tree may, in a high wind situation, create severe stress on the trunk of the tree such that the trunk may fracture, split open, or otherwise fail, and as such will create a danger to life and property in the vicinity should the tree fall."
The actual date at which the tree will be removed has not been determined, but ample notification will be provided to all parties holding a cultural interest or general interest in the tree.
In a press release issued last week, the Delta County Historical Society notes the Ute Council Tree has been a cultural landmark in Delta for over a century; the cottonwood tree is believed to be about 215 years old. Having lost all major limbs from the trunk over the last 25 years, only the crown of the tree survives today, though there is ample evidence that the trunk and portions of the lost branches have been hollow to varying degrees for many years. In 1961, the lower trunk was filled with concrete in an attempt to stabilize it, but as more major limbs have dropped, it has been evident that the tree core has considerable rot and is not solid throughout.
"Because of the sensitivity of this cultural landmark, both to the Ute tribes, the general public and the general historic nature of the tree, all concerns and ideas as to the disposal of the tree being removed will be considered by the historical society, current owners of record of the tree," the press release notes. "In addition, because of the inherent cost of removing the major portion of the tree, estimated to be about $3,000, the historical society is soliciting donations to help with the expense. Donations may be mailed to the Delta County Historical Society, 251 Meeker Street, Delta, CO 81416.