Houston Gets Ready to Plant Thousands of Trees

Arbor Day comes early in Houston and this year the event will be marked this coming Saturday. That's when the Houston Parks Department and Trees for Houston will plant 20,000 trees along Will Clayton Parkway between US 59 and Bush Airport. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports volunteers armed with shovels are needed for the tree planting marathon.

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The goal is to plant 20,000 trees with about 2,000 volunteers. There're 40 acres of ground to cover along Will Clayton Parkway. The volunteers will plant the five gallon trees. Another 10,000 seedlings will be planted by machine. Houston City Forester Victor Cordova says the trees will transform the area.

"It does so much for the air that we breathe, for the property values that we have, for the wildlife benefits. The wildlife benefits are going to be tremendous because like I said right now there's nothing but grass. And when you add 30,000 trees that are going to bring an abundance of wildlife."

Houston does have an ordinance in place that protects trees on city property.

"Before anybody does anything with a tree, even now on city property, they have to come to us for permission. If we decide the tree goes we have to issue a permit. We have the ability to issue citations if somebody breaks the law and takes one out illegally and we pursue that to the fullest."

Cordova says the city usually plants 3,000 to 5,000 trees in any given year. Trees for Houston is helping with the volunteers for the Arbor Day event. That group plants, on average, 25,000 trees and seedlings a year. Volunteer Coordinator Gary Woods says they do take into consideration future construction projects in areas where they plant trees.

"There is going to be a road going right down the center of the area we're going to plant. So what we're doing is we are keeping our trees that are the 20,000 five gallon trees on the outside edges and then we're planting in the center just seedlings and we're doing those with machine planting. So we know those seedlings eventually will be lost. But we are doing everything we can to see to it that the majority of trees we're planting on the 27th will be there long-term."

It's generally thought the road won't be built for another 10 to 15 years. In the meantime the city won't have to worry about mowing the area. The Texas Department of Transportation will reimburse the city for the 200-thousand dollars being spent on trees. If you'd like to take part, organizers just ask that you bring your own shovel and gloves. More information is on-line at KUHF-dot-org. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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