Dallas Charity Guide
Tree Alert

Dallas Parks must plant thousands of new trees after brutal storm

Dallas Parks must plant thousands of new trees after brutal storm

Tenison Highlands golf
Trees were downed at Tenison Highlands golf course. Photo courtesy of Josh Peters/Weibring Wolfard

Dallas Park and Recreation forestry workers are out in force, removing trees that were knocked down in a severe thunderstorm that hit Dallas hard on June 9.

The storm resulted in the death of one woman, multiple injuries, and power outages across many parts of the area.

Park and Recreation officials estimate that more than 700 trees in parks across Dallas did not survive. Many more were severely damaged and obstructing roads, power lines, trails, playgrounds, and other public areas within city parks.

The heaviest damage occurred at parks across East Dallas, including White Rock Lake, Lake Cliff, Flag Pole Hill, Hamilton, Samuell-Grand, Harry S. Moss, and golf courses at Tenison.

Cottonwood, Coombs Creek, and Great Trinity Forest trails are closed, as are White Rock Lake and Wagging Tail dog parks.

Park Department Director Willis C. Winters says in a release that workers are still determining the extent of the damage.

"Our initial responses focus on identifying hazardous trees and their impact on public safety," Winters says. "We are in a recovery phase to address unsafe issues by removing flooding debris, trees on downed power lines, trails, and other areas."

Crews manually pick up tree limbs, branches, and rubble. Smaller trees and branches are fed through industrial chippers that produce mulch for use in parks. Larger trees and branches are sent to the city landfill.

Winters called the damage "unprecedented," and estimates that it could be weeks or months for crews to clear debris and trees.

"We have deployed staff from our facilities, horticulture, and grounds divisions to assist forestry crews with recovery operations," Winters says. "Our employees are working days, nights, and weekends to restore the parks."

You can already see the evidence of their work at the intersection of Northwest Highway and Audelia Road, where damaged trees have been vaporized into piles of wood chips.

Some of the city's tallest and oldest trees were downed, some up to 60 inches wide across the trunk. Species lost include pecan, red oak, cedar elm, and cottonwood.

An estimated 5,200 new trees will need to be planted. Dallas Park and Recreation will undertake reforestation efforts in the fall. Using volunteers, the department will launch the first of many community-replanting programs that will eventually result in more than 5,000 new trees in parks.

Given the high cost of tree replacements and after-care maintenance, Winters is encouraging Dallas businesses and corporations to create partnerships with the department.

One specific need is to help fund irrigation. According to Winters, not all city parks have irrigation systems necessary for newly planted trees to survive.

The cost of an irrigation system for each new small tree grove is $5,000 for labor and materials. More than $1.25 million is needed for the new plantings.

Heavy winds not only affected parks but other Park and Recreation facilities, including 16 recreation centers and eight aquatic centers and community pools, which experienced power outages for several days. The aquatics facilities and recreation centers have opened.