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

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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