Whitman County and Avista crews cut down 20 trees this week that were rotting along the RV park at the Palouse Empire Fairgrounds in Colfax.

After an arborist checked the trees' condition, the county decided they were a safety risk. Bill Tensfeld, director of the Palouse Empire Fair, said it took three days for crews to bring down the poplars.

"I hated to see the trees go myself, but the safety of the public using the RV park was of utmost concern," he said.

He said the previous fair administration had been monitoring them closely for several years and conducted a risk assessment. An arborist found enough rotten spots to warrant their removal, he said.

With the harsh weather conditions on the Palouse, he said the department did not want to risk leaving them standing.

"You can't anticipate when they're going to fall," he said.

Additionally, the roots were starting to "wreak havoc" with the park's water and electrical system, he said.

Tensfeld said they were planted in the '70s or '80s and have a 30-year life cycle.

Tensfeld said he would like to replace the trees in the future, especially because they provided pleasant shade for the fairgrounds.

That likely will not happen next year, he said, but down the road he would like to plant high canopy trees with a longer lifespan.

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