EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - The warm, wet summer in southern Colorado is creating challenges for crews mowing tall grasses and weeds.
Colorado Springs crews are two weeks behind schedule, while El Paso County crews are being called in on Friday, which are normally days off, to try and stay ahead of the work.
Regular mowing along roads, trails and in parks removes obstacles that can block views around corners for drivers, as well as reduce potential fire fuels once dry weather returns.
"It's been one thing after another," said Scott Abbott, a parks and recreation manager. "We're getting rain more often, we're getting larger amounts of rain and we'll have equipment breakdowns. Our crews also have other duties, so they can't focus exclusively on mowing."
Abbott said workers are trying to catch up without needing to earn overtime.
"The important thing is to be efficient as possible while we're out there," he said. "We're also mowing strategically, such as making school zones a priority."
The city has its own crews but also hires a contractor for some mowing duties.
El Paso County has seven crews, said Scot Cuthbertson, executive director of public works.
"We normally work four 10-hour days and take Fridays off," he said. "But for the last six weeks, we've had crews working on Fridays. We're also able to accomplish more because we acquired newer mowing equipment."
On Friday, a county crew was mowing in the Peyton area, where weeds are up to 6 feet high along the roads and some side roads are nearly buried in grasses.
The crew paused at one point to untangle a coil of barbed wire from the mower blades.
"Someone left a coil of it between their fence and the road because this road rarely needs to be mowed," a neighbor said. "The weeds and grasses are so thick, you can't always see what else is in there."
Abbott said city crews recently finished mowing Cottonwood Creek Park and will target the Skyline Trail, on the city's northeast side, next.
That news pleased a homeowner who lives along the trail.
"You guys saved me a call to the city," he said. "I was going to get my lawnmower out and do it myself."
The city and county said they have completed one full mowing cycle so far and are currently working on a second cycle.
They said crews dealt with a similar situation several years ago.