Drought claims more than 9,000 Houston trees so far

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by Gabe Gutierrez / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 21 at 7:41 PM

HOUSTON – So far, the drought has killed 9,330 trees in the City of Houston, park officials said Wednesday.

The figure came as a result of recent aerial tours and Joe Turner, the director of parks and recreation department, said thousands more dead trees could be out there.

Other experts are predicting much worse – especially if the record drought continues.

Barry Ward, the executive director of Trees for Houston, estimates that of Harris County’s 660 million trees, 10 percent – or 66 million – could be gone in the next two years.

A major question is how that will affect the area’s air quality.

“These trees are outside working as factories every day making oxygen,”  said Victor Cordova, the forester for the city’s parks department. “The less trees you have, the more pollution you’re going to have, so it’s going to be an issue for us.”

The price tag of the dead trees is also staggering. Park officials said it will cost $2 million to $3 million to remove them. About 1,000 have been taken down so far.

And there’s no end in sight.

“It’s sad,” said Rudy Vasquez, a walker at Memorial Park. “You used to not be able to see through the woods and now you can see the freeway on the other side.”

Cordova said the city planned to replant a large number of trees in January for Arbor Day.

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