Go to main contentsGo to search barGo to main menu
Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 12:54 AM
AdStrickland Brothers ad spot

HIPPO BITES

City falls behind on tree coverage HUTTO — The Texas A&M Forestry Service performs aerial measurements of how much city land is covered by a tree canopy. Tree coverage helps cities and property owners with energy conservation, stormwater control, cleaner air, cooler ambient temperatures, community wellbeing, property values and job creation, according to the agency.
Members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, summer camp staff and summer camp attendees joined City Council in recognizing July as Parks and Recreation Month. Photo courtesy of City of Hutto
Members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, summer camp staff and summer camp attendees joined City Council in recognizing July as Parks and Recreation Month. Photo courtesy of City of Hutto

City falls behind on tree coverage HUTTO The Texas A&M Forestry Service performs aerial measurements of how much city land is covered by a tree canopy. Tree coverage helps cities and property owners with energy conservation, stormwater control, cleaner air, cooler ambient temperatures, community wellbeing, property values and job creation, according to the agency. At 7.4% coverage, Hutto is well below the regional average of 23%.

“The Old Town district of Hutto is very blessed to have many beautiful old trees. What these trees provide Old Town is not just shade but cooler temperatures which right now in the heat wave Texas is experiencing is very important,” community member Debbie Holland told council members at a July 6 meeting.

Outside of downtown, however, land that has been cleared for development has contributed to Hutto having only about half of the tree coverage of neighboring cities.

Holland cited examples of how Pf lugerville increased its tree coverage through hiring a forester, recruiting volunteers, updating tree codes and forming a citizen tree board. She implored council to consider similar steps.

Hutto resident DJ McPherson, a retired park naturalist and environmental outreach coordinator, also addressed council with pleas for hiring a forestry specialist on staff.

“It seems to me that urban forestry is not much of a priority in our parks,” she said. “I want to advocate for the hiring of an experienced professional arborist or forester or a master naturalist, even if just as a consultant, to bring some passion to this city for the greening of Hutto. I don’t feel like this is growing up as a green city and I’m concerned about it.”

McPherson previously served on the Hutto Parks Advisory Board but said she “became frustrated” with lack of support for more trees, natural habitats and wildflowers.

Supporting the need for a professional arborist on staff, McPherson spoke about stressed and dying trees at Creekside Park, spurring Mayor Mike Snyder and City Manager James Earp to agree to look into it. Snyder visited the park personally and reported back to the community on his social media page.

“ These are the trees that were planted as part of a $98,000 irrigation and planting that was done last October,” Snyder said. “Not sure what happened, but the T-bars were barely in the ground, no mulch was present and the ground was dry enough to put my XL size hand into.”

The mayor said that the city manager has also visited the park and the city is working to fix the issue.

Parks & Rec working on improvement

Citing the importance of outdoor activities to childhood development, Mayor Mike Snyder proclaimed July as Parks and Recreation Month for the city.

“Parks increase a community’s economic prosperity, increase property values, create expansion of the local tax base, increase tourism, attraction and retention of businesses and crime reduction,” reads the July 6 proclamation.

The recognition comes at a time when parks are on taxpayers’ minds. Community members have recently spoken out about expensive renovation plans, splash pad issues, maintenance issues, lack of a community center and other needs.

The Parks and Recreation department “manages over 300 acres, five restrooms, four playgrounds, a splash pad, maintaining downtown and inspecting eight miles of trail,” Parks director Jeff White said.

Chair of the Parks and Advisory Board Perry Savard discussed progress but admitted more needs to be done.

“We are striving to be the best in this area. Are we there yet? No, we’re not. We did just add 20 acres of parkland just north of Limmer Loop on Ed Schmidt. We are in the process of designing a complete redo of Fritz Park, and we are revamping, after COVID, all of our recreational programming,” Savard said.

“Parents need to know if they’re moving to this town working for a company that they have something for their kids to do besides running in the streets and getting in trouble and that’s what we’re working to do,” he added.


Share
Rate

Taylor Press

AdEast Wilco Insider ad spot
AdHoliday Inn Express ad banner
AdKruse Electric Services ad spot
AdJohn Horton Realty ad spot
Ad Featured buisnesses ad spot