City’s Newly-planted Trees Dying in Scorching Heat

By Meg Farris
New Orleans, LA (June 3, 2011)- This heat and drought that we are having could cost the city millions of dollars. Since Hurricane Katrina, thousands of young trees were planted in public areas and parks, and they are not holding up well.

Drive on the newly paved St. Bernard Avenue from Filmore to Interstate 610 and you’ll see at least a dozen trees that look brown, dying or dead. The repaved and replanted Robert E. Lee Boulevard is the same.

“The trees that were planted last year around this time were planted through FEMA monies because they realized that was a part of the city’s infrastructure and that they had to take care of that and replace those trees,” said Jean Fahr, the executive director of Parkway Partners. “So the city was doing a lot of planting last year. They are outside of their maintenance plan now and those are the trees that are in the greatest stress.”
The non-profit Parkway Partners, which works with the city Department of Parks and Parkways, says more than 3,000 trees were planted last year with FEMA funds, and now they are finished with their one-year maintenance contract. That contract made sure that caretakers came by and filled those green gator bags with water so the holes at the bottom would slowly release the water they needed. Normally, rain would take those young vulnerable trees to maturity. Millions of dollars worth of trees are at risk. “Each one of those trees is upwards of $500 with a management plan for that year,” said Fahr.
In the last few weeks the city has asked the fire department to help with watering.
Some home owners are taking city trees into their own hands. Normally an ICU nurse saves patient lives. Now a local nurse has added trees. “I, right now, am filling up five gallon buckets and walking them across the street to water the trees, and sometimes I will take all of my hoses and attach them together and go over there and water,” said Amelie Oriol, who lives in Gentilly. This young fruit orchard on city land in her neighborhood is at risk without her help. So are the trees in City Park.
“If you’re out there and listening and you have a college student that you seem to see laying on the sofa, and they could dedicate at least four hours and they are at least 18 years old, you know, give us a call and we’ll put them to work. Same goes for husbands sitting on the sofa or the La-Z-Boy, we can put them to work,” said John Hopper, the City Park chief development officer. He also says retired people can come volunteer. City Park has golf carts with water tanks on them, so it is not much physical labor to drive around and water trees.
At City Park it’s all hands on deck for workers and volunteers. There are nearly 4,000 young trees that are out of their first-year maintenance contract and vulnerable. “(The cost is) thousands and thousands of dollars, and so certainly the monetary consideration is important, but the real thing is it’s just heartbreaking to see trees that we planted to make the park look better, and one person and hose can’t do the whole trick,” said Hopper.
The city says you can help by leaving your hose at the base of the tree for three hours with the water just at a trickle. They will need to be watered two times a week.
Related Resources:
WWL TV Channel 4- City’s Newly-planted Trees Dying in Scorching Heat
Parkway Partners