Dead tree removal underway around Houston

Although CenterPoint Energy may cut the tree down at no cost, the property owner is responsible for disposing of the debris left on site.

October 18, 2011 5:02:00 PM PDT
The wind can wreak havoc on trees weakened by the drought. Crews have been out in force trying to prevent that kind of situation by tearing down dead and damaged trees. City officials hope the pricy project will save property and even lives.

The city's spending millions of dollars right now to cut down thousands of dead trees on public property. Meantime CenterPoint Energy crews are also out and about removing some trees near power lines for free.

In these windy conditions, dead trees are posing a big problem near power lines. That's why CenterPoint Energy contractors are trying to reduce the risk by cutting down drought damaged trees. And they are not alone. Crews in the city of Houston are also hard at work removing thousands of dead trees.

Visitors Jamesha Harris and Patrick Bailey say the drought has hit Lakewood Park pretty hard.

"It looks bad. It looks bad," Harris said.

More than 100 dead and dying trees are tagged for removal in this park alone. Harris says the conditions are sometimes dangerous with falling limbs.

"Right now it's creating a hazard for kids coming and playing," he said.

The city is spending $4.5 million on its tree removal project. It's targeting hazards along public streets and in small parks first. Workers say the city's taking a green approach to clearing out the mess.

"Those trees are taken to two sites, and they're recycled either for timber use or for mulch or pulp," explained city forester Victor Cordoza.

Back with the CenterPoint Energy crew, the utility company says it will cut down trees on private property for free if they're threatening power lines or equipment. However, the property owner will be responsible for the clean-up.

If you notice a tree hazard near a power line you can report that to CenterPoint Energy at 713-207-2222 or 1-800-332-7143. Consumers should never attempt to remove any tree next to a power line by themselves. If you spot a danger on city property, you can report that by calling 311.

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