Your Official Texas Drought Carnage: 5.6 Million Urban Trees Killed

Categories: Weather

Photo by TFS
Millions and millions gone.
The Texas Forest Service has completed its latest update on the effects of the crushing drought, and it's somewhat hard to fathom: about 5.6 million trees in urban areas of the state fell victim to the lack of rain.

And they ain't done dying yet.

"This estimate is preliminary because trees are continuing to die from the drought," said Pete Smith, a TFS forester who led the count. "This means we may be significantly undercounting the number of trees that ultimately will succumb to the drought. That number may not be known until the end of 2012, if ever."

TFS rubs it in a bit when they describe what they counted as "urban trees": "The trees that line your street, shade your home and give you a quiet place to relax at your local park are all considered to be part of the urban forest," the agency said. And now they're gone.

The 5.6 million figure represents about 10 percent of the urban tree population. It would cost $560 million to get rid of the dead trees, and Pete Smith of TFS tells Hair Balls that is "a very conservative figure."

The study is "a snapshot in time" comparing year to year, he says, and it ended by early October. It may not be until the spring "green-up," he says, when TFS will get a better feel for the drought's effects.

"Some trees won't leaf out, or they will be on their last legs," he said.

Obviously the state has been getting more rain recently, but Smith says that the sudden change can also stress trees.

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Charles Prichard
Charles Prichard

  With the end to drought conditions in most of north texas perhaps we can all plant one or two trees to help replace those ravaged by drought and flash fires of the past few years..


I had some pretty high water bills keeping the ones I'm entrusted with alive.But, remember after Ike all the thousands of trees down ? For the next couple of years we had pretty cold winters and people had simply thrown all that, "could be firewood" in the landfill. Maybe Mother Nature is trying to tell us to conserve and value her precious resources. We as custodians of this planet for our grandchildren, should learn from history, not repeat it.

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