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City Needs Help Saving Park Trees From Drought

A tree in Bull Creek District Park
Photo by KUT News
A tree in Bull Creek District Park

The record drought is imperiling Austin’s trees. But the city’s Parks and Recreations Department only has about 120 employees to maintain about 15,000 acres of parkland. So the Austin Parks Foundation is hoping it can convince friendly neighbors to help its trees survive.

Their preventive measure is simple but it will require you to break a sweat: spreading mulch around the base of the tree.

From the Austin Parks Foundation website, here are the three steps you can take:

Identify trees in your park that need to be mulched and tell us the total number of trees needing mulch.  Confirm with your City Parks department supervisor (tell us if you don't know who that is.) Set up a public Volunteer workday for mulching.  Send the above information, along with your contact info to

KUT News recently talked to the city’s arborist about the stressed and dying trees on public property in Austin. He said the city will often leave dying trees alone, especially in creek beds, because they become important sources of food for bugs and ultimately for birds.

If you’re worried about trees on your own property, the Houston Chronicle’s garden writer has some tips on keeping them alive during the dry spell. Younger trees, for example, need more water than older trees.

On a somewhat related note, Canadian researchers recently found that cloned trees raised in separate places react differently to drought, even though they are genetically identical.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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