Are dying trees costing you money?

July 1, 2009 5:39:05 PM PDT
Last October, one month after Hurricane Ike, Houston mayor Bill White announced a new tree initiative called "Million Trees Plus For Houston." The goal of the project, funded mostly by taxpayers, was to plant more trees in Houston than the City of Houston ever had before.Fast forward to today and some of those trees are dying. The blistering sun and extreme heat have clearly taken their toll.

Concerned citizen Kevin Rodgers says his wife was so appalled at what she saw, she called to complain.

"They look like little brown sticks in the ground that are not getting any type of water," Rodgers said. "It looks like they are just dying."

The City Forester for the City of Houston's Parks and Recreation Department, Victor Cordova, says his office has been flooded with complaints.

The local landscaping company hired by the City of Houston to plant, water, and maintain some 20,000 trees, LandPro, Inc., "has not kept up with the watering and it would behoove [them] to water these things because at the end of the day, [they are] responsible for them," Cordova said.

The trees clearly haven't been watered enough, but according to the contract, LandPro is only required to water them once a week.

"In this type of heat, even in a normal heat, we'd water every day on a new tree," Kay Paschall, a local landscape horticulturist and tree expert, said. "Even if it was planted in November [and it gets] through the winter and...into [the] growing period, they've got to have water. Even if it's a native tree, it can't handle this kind of heat."

The owner of LandPro said in a written statement, "We have been following a water schedule. We never stopped, but we will try to enhance our efforts as much as possible. We are going to make good on everything."

Rodgers sure hopes so. He'd hate to think the effort his tax dollars helped to fund was nothing but a big waste of money.

"If we are going to go green in Houston, then someone needs to water [the trees and] take care of it."

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