Damaged Park Trees Getting A Review

Friday, February 22nd 2008, 6:49 pm
By: News On 6

Just as homeowners have dealt with broken limbs from the ice storm, the City of Tulsa has its own property to worry about.  The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports a new effort has started to document the damage to trees in city parks.

The parks had a lot of damage from the ice storm and it's going to be expensive to clean up and then replant them.  The federal government will reimburse the city for the work, but first, the damage has to be documented tree by tree.

A small team of foresters and arborists face a big job.  They're cataloguing tree damage in Mohawk Park, working now on the 17th hole of the Frisbee Golf Course.

"Well, you're seeing everything from trees that absolutely have to come back to trees that with a little pruning could come back after the ice storm," said Oklahoma State Forester Mark Bays.

The team has marked more than 1,800 trees, with the priority on those along trails where people could be in danger if they fall.  The city had already started creating an inventory of trees before the storm and the outside help will take it further.

"When I heard 80 parks had been GPS'd, that's pretty progressive.  That's forward thinking," said Eric Kuehler of the U.S. Forestry Department.

Eric Kuehler came in from Georgia to plot the data on maps.  Circles and triangles mark what they've done, documenting the damage on as many trees as possible.

The information will help the city prioritize tree work at Mohawk Park for years to come.

"We were GPS'ing the trees that don't have a FEMA concern and we're looking at non FEMA concerns and we can tell what is ice storm damage or damage before that," said Eric Kuehler with the U.S. Forestry Department.

The team isn't mapping the wild areas of Mohawk and can't stay long enough to mark every tree that needs it.  But, they hope to get the dangerous and dying trees identified within a week.

"The first issue the city faces after the ice storm is to make it safe for people to come out to the parks, so those are the ones most critical to identify," said Oklahoma State Forester Mark Bays.

While as many as a third of the trees in Tulsa have damage, the federal survey so far shows that only 5% will have to be cut down.  That's a lot of trees, but not as many as the first estimates.