There Is Unrest in the Forest: Dying Trees to Cost City $4.5 Million

Categories: Spaced City

Rush-The-Trees-465214.jpg
The maples scream "oppression" but to the drought, not the oak trees.
Houston always seems to surprise people who come here from other parts of the country and think our landscape is populated with tumbleweeds and Dry Gulch-style sandy creek bottoms. Take one of them to the observation deck of a tall building and there is often a gasp followed by, "I never knew Houston was so green." Unfortunately, that may be a thing of the past thanks to our ongoing drought.

If you've driven around any of the greener areas of the city like Memorial Park or Hermann Park, you no doubt have noticed a large number of dead or dying trees covered in browning leaves well short of winter. According to Trees for Houston, the city and its surrounding counties could lose 66 million (yes, MILLION) trees as the result of a drought that doesn't show any signs of letting up.

Adding insult to injury, the city is considering spending $4.5 million to remove dead or dying trees on public property -- more than 13 times what they spend on the same service in any given year. The number of trees they would remove if city council approves the measure would be around 15,000 from parks and esplanades.

As the drought continues with little end in sight, more trees will likely succumb to dehydration as well as bugs and disease that ravage trees weakened by the dry conditions.

The end result will likely be a fairly substantial reshaping of the city's natural canopy that, in addition to looking great, helps to absorb large amounts of pollutants from the air. But, if you can't breathe from the pollution, you probably won't care about the view out of your window anyway.

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Tree Removals
Tree Removals

A tree can make a beautiful addition to your garden but it is also one of the most important landscaping choices you will make...

Tree Removals
Tree Removals

A tree can make a beautiful addition to your garden but it is also one of the most important landscaping choices you will make...

miguelito
miguelito

I wish I had more time to write, but I don't. Spending 4.5 million on tree removal is ridiculous. I will happily volunteer my time to help remove dead debris. The 4.5 million could be better spent. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people use the park everyday, the least they could do is give a little time back to help. Anyone interested in volunteering? Good note Tiffany!

TexanTiff
TexanTiff

I'm very conflicted on this issue.  For one thing, this area of TX is naturally devoid of trees.  In the past, the area we live in today was a grassland, marsh, low-lying, prairie.  It is part of nature's process to rid an area of organisms unsuitable for the region.  Most trees we enjoy today only came into high population because of a human presence.  As people moved to an area we allowed more trees to grow in our yards/properties and protected these young trees from droughts and fires.  A prairie, like the Gulf Coast Region we live in, only had tree islands near bayous and creeks; probably because of common drought and lack of hospitable environments for trees.  Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised or upset by the loss of many trees in Houston; it's a natural process.

Unfortunately, trees have so many beneficial effects on a city that it's incredibly difficult to watch the loss of many across Houston.  Trees clean the air by providing a filter for pollutants and particulates, as Balke refers to, and producing Oxygen for the atmosphere.  Trees also provide shade and relief from concrete heat islands, so commonly found in urban areas.  Having a tree cover part of your house can actually decrease your cooling costs by a significant $ amount.  Trees provide, undoubtedly, a huge benefit to all citizens.

Then, there's the whole issue of removing dead/dying trees from our parks.  It's a choice really.  Removal of dead forest debris could prevent wildfire, saving much more than the millions it costs for removal.  If the city didn't take measures to remove the majority of combustible forest material, would someone then write an article about Houston's lack of preparation and prevention?  WIth the risk of wildfire so high, and danger so iminent, and property values near our Memorial Park so elevaed, I personally think 'Better Safe than Sorry'.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Few of those trees are native to Houston, though. Paging my friend TexanTiff, master naturalist.

Eric
Eric

I have to wonder how many trees are dying (or already dead) because people thought that saving their lawns was more important...

Joyce Killtree
Joyce Killtree

I think that I shall never seeA reference as lovely as a tree.

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