No one had a permit or permission, but about 1,000 trees along Highway 24 in Manitou Springs have mysteriously disappeared. The Colorado Department of Transportation is now investigating to see who is at fault.
CDOT officials say, the trees were cut down several months ago along the stretch of highway near the Santa Fe Motel. Stumps and twigs now stand where tall, bushy trees once lined the roadway. "It was a solid wall of green leaves and branches. You can hear road noise now. The trees were so thick. They blocked that and made the vehicles not as visible," says motel owner Charles Bynum.
He believes the trees were chopped down so a billboard could be seen from the highway. "It seems incredible to me. I can't believe a company would have the gall to do something like that," Bynum says. Another problem is that all the downed trees were left behind and that's a fire hazard.
The company that owns the billboard is Lamar Outdoor Adversting. A spokesperson says they did have a tree service in that area, but would not offer any additional comment on the matter. Lamar is now trying to resolve the situation with the Department of Transportation.
At this point, CDOT officials say it cannot prove who cut the trees down. What it can say is that the trees were cut illegally. "To me, these trees belong to everyone in Colorado. It would be no different than going into someone's front yard and cutting down a tree because it was in view of the sign,” says Bynum.
Punishment for this type of crime could range from trespassing to destruction of public property.