Mitigation Plan Ensures that More Trees Will be Planted than will be Destroyed
Removing trees that are growing in the public right-of-way can be controversial. We think of these trees as “our” shared property and enjoy the shade they provide, the habitat they offer for birds and small critters and the visual appeal of that leafy, green canopy. Sometimes that is the same for trees on private property that must be removed to accommodate a public infrastructure project.
This month, construction crews will begin removing trees along Walnut Bend Lane in preparation for the complete rebuilding of this vital Westchase District roadway. Altogether, 49 trees will be removed, including Oak, Sweetgum, Ash and Pine trees, plus Crape Myrtles and Sago Palms.
Some of the trees are in poor condition because they’ve not received proper care and maintenance, or because they were damaged by storms. A few of the trees are tall, mighty oaks and we’ll collectively sigh (or cry!) when they come down.
But all of them will be mitigated by the City of Houston’s Tree Protection Plan. Dale Temple, the city’s forester has been involved in the project since the beginning. “It’s best to do it that way,” he said. “That way if we’re going to fight over a tree, they can design around it. In this case, the number of trees that will be planted when the project is done is much more than what is required by the city’s mitigation plan.”
Temple has personally walked through the entire length of the project identifying the 49 trees that will be removed. He’s also identified 314 trees that will be saved. Orange construction fencing has been installed to identify which trees will be removed and which must be saved. It’s up to the contractor and the various subcontractors to ensure those trees are not damaged in the construction process.
Construction is expected to take approximately 20 months. Irma Sanchez. Westchase District’s vice president of projects, who oversees the project, said she looks forward to the day when all the new trees will be planted along Walnut Bend.
A total of 275 new trees will be planted, 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.
“That’s the fun part of this job,” said Sanchez. “We’re going to have a fantastic four-lane street with nice pedestrian features, including sidewalks and bus stops. We’ll also be adding trees and shrubs to the public spaces. Walnut Bend will be a tree-lined roadway offering shade to pedestrians and motorists alike.”