February Freeze Claims Mature Trees

Trees spared by construction fall to freezing temps

A cedar elm is tagged for removal along Walnut Bend Lane.

Fewer than 50 trees were originally marked to be removed by the construction of Walnut Bend Lane. This included some that were already on the decline, plus some that were in conflict with the proposed improvements.

Most of those trees were covered by the City of Houston’s Tree Protection ordinance, which dictates that any removed trees be offset by new trees within the project area. For example, if a construction project removes trees with a total diameter of 250 caliper inches, then trees totaling 250 caliper inches must be planted in their place.

Unfortunately, an additional 24 trees have since been marked for removal, thanks to Winter Storm Uri. “These trees were on the decline when we did our original tree inventory,” said Westchase District’s Vice President of Projects Irma Sanchez. “The winter freeze expedited their decline.”

Westchase District’s original tree mitigation plan more than covers the removal of the additional “freeze trees.” A total of 275 new trees will be planted along Walnut Bend Lane, including Live Oak, Swamp Red Maple, Possomhaw Holly, Texas Red Bud, Mexican Sycamore, Overcup Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Monterrey Oak, Nuttall Oak, Bald Cypress and Loblolly Pine.

“Our biggest challenge now is finding the trees,” said Sanchez. “There is a nationwide shortage caused by the severe winter freeze. Just like homeowners around Houston, we’re struggling to find trees that meet our specifications.”

These wood stakes along Walnut Bend Lane indicate where all the new trees will be planted.

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