City Trees

May/June 2016

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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32 City Trees How Severe Was It? The Texas drought started in October 2010, and by September 2011, parts of Texas experienced greater than 20 inches (51 cm) departure from normal rainfall. By summer 2011, Texas was well on its way to having its most severe drought ever recorded. The heat compounded the problem; in 2011, the hottest June, July, and August on record scorched Texas to a crisp, with August being the hottest month recorded for any state ever in U.S. history! Many Texas cities set new records for total number of 100-plus-degree F (38 C) days and for consecutive 100-plus-degree F days. Fort Worth recorded 71 days over 100 degrees during the summer of 2011. Texas was not officially out of drought conditions until July 2015. By that time, the City of Fort Worth had lost 6,129 city-managed trees. Both private and public trees perished from the drought. The task of removal became overwhelming to both municipalities and private citizens. An incident early in the drought brought even more emphasis to the need for expedient hazard mitiga- tion. A young Fort Worth man was killed assisting his neigh- bors in removing a large dead tree from their back yard. The dried-out tree became unbalanced after limbs were removed from one side; it fell and crushed the young man. We were called to the site to remove the trunk so that paramedics could retrieve the body. The Nature of Drought Drought has multiple effects on trees, especially on urban trees with restricted root space. When soil moisture is unavail- able, embolisms can form in vascular tissues, blocking water uptake when moisture is once again available. When water is limited, all plant growth is affected. Leaves are smaller and thicker, wood vessels for transporting water become smaller, and respiration and photosynthesis are reduced. The reduc- tion in carbohydrate storage for future growth and defense can have prolonged effects after the drought period. For instance, late summer drought can stunt bud formation, lead- Fort Worth Forestry's Response to the Five-Year Texas Drought by Melinda Adams, City Forester, Fort Worth, Texas A bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) suffering from the after-effects of drought in Fort Worth's Trinity Park. Courtesy Fort Worth Forestry Section

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