Houston To Spend Millions On Tree Removal

Houston could spend as much as $4.5 million removing dead trees. The city authorized the expenditure as part of an emergency response to the drought.

The last time Houston city officials had to think about tree removal on this scale was after Hurricane Ike. The city is using the same approach now as they did then — to authorize a spending contract up to $4.5 million and then hope not all the money is needed.

Houston Parks Department Director Joe Turner says they estimate between 9,000 and 15,000 city-owned trees are dead and need to be removed.

“We’ve talked about parks a lot, but we manage all the streets in the city, all the right-of-ways street-wise. And so that’s going to be our first step is moving through the streets to make sure they’re all safe with the dead trees we’ve got. Then we’ll move to our parks where we actually have trees and then we’ll deal with parks that have forest last.”

The trees that are cut down will be used for timber or chipped into mulch.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says it may be possible for the city to recover some of the money they spend.

“We believe that at some point FEMA will declare a state of emergency for the State of Texas, we hope for the City of Houston, so that we can get some federal help with these costs.”

The city will meet with the tree removal contractor, DRC Emergency Services, this week to prioritize which trees pose the greatest risk to public safety and need to go first.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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