City Waiting Until August to Replace Palm Trees

POSTED: Monday, June 27, 2011 - 11:26am

UPDATED: Saturday, July 2, 2011 - 6:20pm

EL PASO - Chances are you've seen them. They're an eyesore and they're all over El Paso.

But even though some of them look dead, there's still a chance they could be alive. We're talking about the dozens of palm trees damaged by the deep freeze in February.

"As late as last week we've had some come out,” said Brent Pearson, a city arborist.

That's why the city's Transportation Department says it's not ready to start removing any palm trees, no matter how dead they may look. Pearson says the Transportation Department has about 500 palms in medians and along roads and he estimates up to 35% are dead.

"We're hoping that the percentage gets better but we'll see."

The city says it plans to replace as many dead palm trees as possible with other trees that can withstand future freezing temps, but in some cases, it won't be possible.

"If the dominant tree on the landscape turns out to be palms, like on Geronimo, then we'll stay with the palm. But where we can plant other trees we'll look at other varieties."

So how much does the city think it will cost to replace up to 170 trees?

"It's not a cheap deal. They're heavy and we'll have to set up traffic control and get some heavy equipment to move them out," said Pearson.

While Pearson said it's still too early to estimate what it will cost, most of the trees will be coming from the city's own tree farm. That's much cheaper than buying them.

"I wish trees had a heartbeat so we could declare them dead or alive but at this point we just have to sit and wait to find out which ones come out and which ones don't."

The city says it will start removing dead palm trees by the end of August, when enough time has gone by to make sure they're not still alive.

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Palmtrees are fine, they just need to replace a few. It isn't a big deal. The city has about 1.8 million for those expenses. It's not going to cost them 1.8 million. Not even a hundredth... These are not NEWS.

The city also needs to consider the visual hindrance some trees cause. There are lots of places around town where the trees/plants/shrubs, etc along the roadside or in medians that make it hard to see oncoming cars when trying to cross or merge into traffic. Personally, I don't think botanical ornaments in the middle of the road really add any sense of beauty to the city anyway (whether they're alive or not). Nor do they provide reasonable shade. Save the money for something more practical.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Planting palm trees again would mean money down the drain; for one, the majority of palms in this area do NOT tolerate temperatures below 20 degrees! The city needs to get their act together and plant trees that do tolerate deep freezes as well as high temperatures. For the speculators out there, Arizona Ash trees tolerate temperatures from -10 to 100+ degrees. Lets follow L.A.'s plan and plant trees that actually HELP the environment.

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