LOCAL NEWS

Volunteer Crew Clears Trees At Utah State Capitol

Sep 9, 2020, 8:04 PM | Updated: 8:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The windstorm that roared through Utah Tuesday destroyed a dozen big trees at the Utah State Capitol. That’s an emotional loss for many Utahns. Fortunately, a professional crew volunteered to clean it up as soon as the storm subsided.

The damage to the trees on the capitol grounds was extensive. Trees snapped and ripped out of the ground all the way around the building.

Allyson Gamble watched from her window as trees blew down, but professional volunteers stepped up Wednesday to help.

“These trees are friends,” said Gamble, executive director of the Capitol Preservation Board.

She was at the capitol for work early Tuesday morning. It was a terrifying sight for Gamble as she watched the fierce winds blow down or snap 12 trees that ranged in age from 50 to 75 years.

Professional crew volunteered to clean up the State Capitol as soon as the storm subsided.

A number of other trees lost branches.

“They are the character of the Capitol Hill,” Gamble said. “They’re just beautiful to see.”

The loss brought tears to her eyes.

“We were watching from inside the capitol, and it was just overwhelming to see the winds, and to see the destruction before your eyes,” she said.

Gamble said she was thrilled when Bryan Wilmot from XCEL General Contractors volunteered a professional crew to clean the debris as soon as the storm subsided, calling her at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

XCEL General Contractors volunteered its services to removed downed trees from the State Capitol grounds.

“They said, ‘We want to come up, and we want to do what’s right. This is our community. This is our Capitol and we want to volunteer and help come clean up these trees,’” Wilmot said.

XCEL has done work at the capitol over the last 20 years.

“We’ve got a lot of memories here at the capitol,” said Wilmot, one of the company owners. “I knew they were going to need some help, so I gave her a call and said we would volunteer and come up here and start taking these trees out.”

It was a big job that requires their biggest equipment.

They started the work early Wednesday, but had to return to Utah County to bring up some larger tools.

“We’re just giving back to the community,” said Wilmot. “We’ve been lucky. Our business is doing well, so it feels good to give back.”

While many Utahns have been eager to help, it was a dangerous job, so the Capitol Preservation Board was not using any untrained volunteers.

The XCEL crew expected to clean up most of the trees on the east side of the grounds by Wednesday night.

“It’s the people’s house,” said Gamble. “We want to make sure the people’s grounds are cleaned and they can come up and enjoy them.”

Crews focused on cleaning up the trees enough to make the area safe for visitors, but it will take time to get it all done. There was no specific estimate on how long it will take.

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