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City of Austin to begin removing dead trees after winter storms

Officials estimate that about 90% of Austin's palm trees are dead.

AUSTIN, Texas — Starting at the end of the month, the Austin Public Works Department is set to begin removing dead or damaged trees left over across the city after the February freeze.

The forestry team will be inspecting vegetation only in the public right of way and, to protect public safety, will begin removing dead trees in high-traffic areas. To report such trees, residents can call Austin 3-1-1.

According to the department, "right of way" includes streets, sidewalks, alleys and other land designated for public use. Many trees in the right of way were severely impacted by the historic storms, such as Arizona ash, Chinese tallow and non-native palms and pine tree species.

Arborists will evaluate each tree and remove those that pose an immediate threat to public safety. If it is determined that a tree must be removed, nearby businesses and residences will be notified with a door hanger providing information on what will be removed, when and a contact number.

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A major focus of the team will be to remove dead palm trees, as it is estimated that about 90% of Austin's are now dead.

"The longer palms are left standing, the more difficult they become to remove," said Lisa Killander, Public Works forestry program manager. "Rotting palms are heavy and can snap and fall without warning, creating hazardous conditions for pedestrians, drivers and property."

Officials add that residents are responsible for tending to the plants that extend from their property into the right of way, as well as the plants that they have placed in the right of way. Plants that create a barrier to public mobility will need to be pruned and dead vegetation should be removed completely to decrease wildfire risk.

While personal plants that have been planted in the right of way are a property owner's responsibility, the foresty team will be assessing the safety risk of palms and other trees in the right of way. If they pose a risk, the City says public safety will be prioritized over property owner responsibility. Property owners who have palms or damaged trees on their property can call a certified arborist to schedule an appointment.

For more information on right-of-way maintenance, click here.

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