Good Life

Drought taking toll on Texas trees

FORT WORTH -- A drive through Trinity Park illustrates the toll the drought is taking.

Instead of vibrant trees along walking and biking trails, many are turning brown; others have lost all their leaves.

While the final toll won't be known for months, the prognosis isn't good.

"There will be significant losses," said Melinda Adams, the city forester for Fort Worth. "I'm pretty convinced there will be 20 to 30 percent of canopy losses in those areas without irrigation before it's all said and done. One large red oak in Trinity Park has already withered and died."

It isn't just in parks and public areas. Trees in residential areas are likely under stress if they didn't receive enough water during the intense heat this summer.

"I'm getting calls just about every day from people asking me if they need to water their trees," said Keith Johansson, owner of Metro Maples, which stocks more than 15,000 trees on 6 acres near Kennedale.

"They'll say something like, 'It looks like most of my oaks are going,' but it's usually too late. They should have been watering in August. I tell them to try and water because it's hard to tell if a tree is really dead or not. It might come back next spring."

But Johansson said the losses are looking worse than the last major drought in 2005-06. Some species are holding up better than others, but he estimates that 2 to 5 percent of trees will eventually die.

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