Memorial Park was bustling with people walking their pets and runners, all aware that the landscape changed when thousands of trees were removed due to the drought last year. Many stopped by on the corner of East Memorial Loop Drive, adjacent to the Seymour Lieberman Trail, to witness the beginning of the reforestation.
Joe Turner is director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
"This tree here is a Live Oak, of course. It's a 9 inch diameter tree, and we're using it as a signature point for Re-Plant Houston. Re-Plant Houston will be a long term process, not just this year, many years to come. But Houstonians have a love for their trees."
Because of the drought, an estimated 11,000 dead trees have been removed from Memorial, Hermann, MacGregor and Mason Parks.
"MacGregor Park though, a much smaller park, really from a tree drought standpoint, really saw tremendous amount of devastation. And so, we're very happy that Trees for Houston worked with us and we'll be putting approximately 274 trees, most of those are 15 gal (gallons)."
City Forester Victor Cordova says the dead trees are being replaced with different sizes and varieties.
"The pallet that we chose from, look around. Whatever's here, that's what we chose to put back in the park, simple as that. And the unique thing this year is we got trees all levels. All heights, all ages are gonna go into this park. We do not want to see a mono-culture: same age, same kind. We're trying to break up that monotony."
Re-Plant Houston partners include the Memorial Park Conservancy, the Hermann Park Conservancy, the Houston Parks Board, Trees for Houston and the Apache Foundation. Nancy Sullivan is executive director of the Memorial Park Conservancy.
"We're obviously excited to see new trees getting into Memorial Park. I think we've all been devastated by the loss of so many trees and, it's just heart-warming to see how many Houstonians are stepping up to help us, both in terms of wanting to plant trees, help us raise money for the reforestation of the park, and we'll get through this devastation, and the park is even gonna be better than ever, eventually."
Two year watering plans have been designed for the areas where the new trees are being planted, and eventually other parks and green spaces will be replanted until all the trees lost are replaced. Information on becoming a volunteer and plans for Arbor Day can be found at www.houstonparks.org.