The Drought Is Absolutely Killing Memorial Park's Trees

The never-ending drought hitting Houston and the rest of Texas is having a devastating effect on one of the city's favorite things: the trees in Memorial Park.

Barry Ward, executive director of Trees for Houston, took a tour yesterday to assess the damage and was dismayed at what he saw.

"In parts of the north side of the park, for instance, you can see I-10 through the forest band," he tells Hair Balls. "A month ago you couldn't."

Red Oaks seem to be faring worse. "We're going to see the loss of thousands of trees, many of them significant," he says.

The extent of the damage might not become apparent for a while. Dried-out root systems will leave trees extremely vulnerable to high winds (think tropical storms) or beetle infestations.

Of course, it's not just limited to Memorial Park. "Houston will look very different in five years, in terms of the tree canopy," Ward says.

The city has already begun to remove some Memorial Park trees that have suffered from beetle infestations, some of which might look healthy on the outside but are dead or doomed.

There's not much the city can do about it -- "You can't water Houston," Ward says -- and Rick Perry's plan to end the drought by praying to someone called "God" appears to have failed.

What Trees for Houston and other groups are doing is picking out particularly significant trees and concentrating on saving them by watering.

"You can do that in your neighborhood," he adds, by giving a favorite tree a bucket of water every week or so.

Or you can keep praying to that God. And when Memorial Park looks denuded compared to now in years to come, you'll know who to blame.

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