City To Remove Thousands Of Dead Trees

Local crews are busy cutting up dead trees and hauling off debris to large processing areas, similar to the process after Hurricane Ike. But these trees died from the drought, not a hurricane.

At Lakewood Park in Northeast Houston, a big tractor looking machine cuts away at the bottom of a 100 foot tree, while its claw like arms hold it in position to keep it from falling in the wrong direction.

Victor Cordoba is the man in charge of the city’s trees and says this scene is going in several locations throughout Houston.

"We’ve taken down about 210 trees. Its cost us about $47,000 to date. As we speak, we have about 30 inspectors looking for trees in certain zones."

The tall thin trees look indestructible, but Cordoba says the summer drought was just too much for them to take.

"They work all day. They sit outside all day. Then they turn to get some water and there’s none — for months, so they go into stress and eventually they die off like they do all over the city."

The dry summer conditions prompted city officials to impose a burn ban, a ban that is still in place despite the recent drop in temperatures. Cordoba says this past weekend he saw many people not complying with the ban.

"The weather was relatively nice and people were out having a good time, and they meant no harm, but they were barbequing in our parks. And again the weather, the time change, its gotten people more comfortable, but again remember we are under a barbeque ban, a smoking ban, so just be aware that that stuff is still in effect."

 As for the trees, only dead trees on city property will be removed. Homeowners can’t just call and ask for a tree in front of their house to be cut down.

"We look for potential targets, meaning that tree if it falls, it’ going to fall on something or somebody in the city. So those are the priority. In the woods, in the back or Memorial Park, let’s say, if that tree falls, it falls."

Officials say the number of dead trees they have to knock down may end up being similar to the amount of trees that were destroyed by Hurricane Ike three years ago. For that reason they don’t anticipate being finished with the project until at least January.