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Last Summer's Drought, Still Killing Trees: Help Out Sam Houston National Forest

Okay, so this tree, with its lovely green canopy, looked like it had handily survived last summer's Texas drought. But just this week, it popped out of the ground in its Montrose backyard and took out a hammock as it crashed down to the patio.

Same thing holds for a lot of trees in the Sam Houston National Forest, Art Attack just found out. The reason huge portions of the national park remain closed to the hiking, bicycling, running public is because no one knows what other trees might topple over or when they might do it.

"We're still losing trees in the forest. It's a combination of stress factors. Especially your hardwoods. They'll get stressed one year and not able to recover. So it looks like they're going to survive but they actually are in that end-of-life phase because of this stress," said Dr. David Clipson, executive director of the Friends of the National Forest and Grassland in Texas, a nonprofit.

And, in fact, there's something you can do on Labor Day. A BMW promotion entitled "X1 Restore the Outdoors" offers you the chance to Facebook "like" a photo of the company's new X1 model parked in the Sam Houston forest, and for every like, BMW donates $1 to the Friends.

Here's what BMW had to say:

BMW is setting its X1 out on a three-week, cross-country road trip with the mission to restore the places it loves through "Likes" on Facebook.

Beginning August 23 in Seattle and continuing through September 10, finishing in New York City, the BMW X1 will be pulling into 12 predetermined U.S. locations, posting pictures of noteworthy parks, beaches and forests along the way. Drivers will capture an Instagram photo at each stop and upload it to the Facebook page.

On September 3rd, Sam Houston National Forest will be one of these stops as it partners with BMW to raise funds. Local Houston residents are encouraged log on to the Facebook link above and 'Like' the photo of their park. Each 'Like' translates to a $1 donation to your local park--up to $10,000 per site, for a national total of $120,000. Feel free to read more here about the "Restore the Outdoors" social media program.

"We're the nonprofit that supports the national forest and grasslands in Texas," Clipson said. They provide a variety of programs at the Sam Houston park. "This donation will really help us continue our efforts to get young people and families connected with the forest."

In addition to his job, Clipson has seen the lasting effects of the drought up close and personal. "I live on the Angelina National Forest. I counted 13 trees that this time last year I thought were going to live and now they're dead -- in the lot right behind my house."

He says they've been working on erosion-control projects and debris clearing in Sam Houston. "There's over a thousand miles of trail in the Sam Houston National Forest. It's an extensive trail system. A good part of it is closed until we can get it cleaned up. That's really the pressing need in the forest at this time."

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing