Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 24, 2013

Trees still dying

Effects of 2011 drought still seen

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Because of the effects of prolonged drought conditions that peaked in the scorching summer of 2011, Henderson County Road and Bridge crews often find it necessary to cut down dead trees that are found on the Right of Way of county roads.

Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ken Geeslin, who is headquartered in the heavily-forested southeast part of the county, said his crews spent 86 days removing the dead trees in 2012,

“We’ve made significant progress,” Geeslin said. “But there are more still dying.

This month, workers have been on CR 4622, CR 4513, CR 4618 and CR 4812 and more cutting is to come.

Henderson County is located in the western part of Northeast Texas in a map of tree mortality published by the Texas A&M Forest Service. The section had about 309.4 million trees prior to the extended drought of 2011. An estimated 25.3 million trees died, amounting to 8.2 percent of the total. The only section of the state with a higher percentage of dead trees was the Brazos Valley, which lost 9.7 percent of its trees. Statewide, the loss at the time of the survey was 6.2 percent.

The number was determined by a study of both on-the-ground tree health assessments collected during a 3-month period earlier this year and satellite imagery from before and after the drought.

The Texas A&M Forest Service survey of hundreds of forested plots scattered across the state shows 301 million trees were killed as a result of the devastating 2011 drought.

A press release said the trees died as a result of lack of water, or because they were too drought-stressed to fight insect infestation and disease.

In addition to the trees that succumbed to the drought, the Forest Services estimates that before 2011, 272 million standing dead trees were already in the woods and forests of the state.