Tree ‘destruction’ prompts complaint

County promises better communication

-Submitted photo
Jeff Bluml provided this photo of trees chopped down next to the road, on his property next to Lizard Creek in rural Webster County.

Jeff Bluml claims that Webster County crews destroyed a number of trees on his property, located along the fenceline on a county road.

“I lost 30 trees that were probably 60 years old,” Bluml told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Bluml’s complaint to the board prompted an apology for lack of communication and a call for better communication with landowners as road crews work to control brush and trees growing on the roadsides.

“I apologize for the miscommunication — no communication, initially,” Webster County Engineer Randy Will said.

Bluml lives along Lizard Creek on Hayes Avenue, with a strip of wooded land that provides a home for wildlife.

-Submitted photo
Trees have been chopped up by the county next to the road at Jeff Bluml’s property recently, promting Bluml to bring his complaints to the board of supervisors.

Bluml said crews were out using a machine to cut the timber along the road, but claims they came too far into his property.

“I was working in my shop and I came upstairs, and noticed all this heavy equipment sitting at the end of my driveway, then walked down and looked at my trees and I was about sick,” Bluml said. “There needs to be something better. Especially if they’re going to trim trees, they need to at least contact the landowner.”

The county’s right of way extends beyond the edges of the road. Iowa Code states the right of way for secondary roads is 66 feet in width, unless specified otherwise by the county supervisors.

Bluml said the trees were not cut cleanly, but were “sheared off” or “shattered” by the machine.

Will, and Supervisor Mark Campbell, both said that communication was vital moving forward.

“The message I gave to the foreman is, when you get near residential areas or questionable areas we have to stop and talk to the individuals, and make sure we have communicated,” Will said. “We’ve had two complaints, one down by Harcourt, and this one.”

Will said crews are currently taking advantage of the “open winter” and getting tree and brush work done while they can.

“There are 1,200 miles of roads, and if we do not do any brush and tree control, or do not keep on top of it, it gets way out of hand,” he said. “I’m talking about the county as a whole.”

Bluml said he was told it’s safer and faster to use the machine instead of trimming the trees another way.

“He said this is a safety issue since you don’t have people out running a chain saw, but when you are killing and destroying the trees, and especially reaching across private property fencelines into my timber and breaking those all up, I have a problem with it,” he said.

“It sounds like communication will help a lot here,” Campbell said.

After the meeting, Campbell said he and Supervisor Keith Dencklau went out to look at the trees.

He said better communication will determine both what is best for the roads, and best for landowners looking to beautify their land.

Bluml said he had talked with Will about crews doing some cleanup of downed timber, and they were doing the work on Tuesday.

“They are doing a good job cleaning it up now,” he said.