90% of Austin’s palm trees are dead after winter storm, city beginning massive clean up

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting next week, the City of Austin will undergo a massive clean up effort to remove the dead trees and vegetation from the historic winter freeze from streets, sidewalks, alleys and other public land.

The Public Works Department estimates an astounding 90% of the city’s palm trees are dead.

In order to ensure safety, the forestry department will begin proactively removing dead trees from high traffic areas, a job that must be completed sooner rather than later. Experts say the longer rotting palms are left standing, the heavier they become and the more likely to snap on unsuspecting pedestrians and drivers.

If trees are believed to pose an immediate threat to public safety, residents and businesses nearby will be notified with a door hanger that provides information and contact numbers in case questions arise.

Residents are responsible for caring for plants on their own properties or extend into the right of way. The city, however, will remove vegetation on private property if it extends into the right of way and is deemed a potential risk to the public.

Other trees hit particularly hard by the deep freeze were Arizona ash and Chinese tallow trees, along with non-native palms and species of pine trees, the City says.

The City of Austin wants you to follow these guidelines to hep clear the public right of way:

  • Sidewalks: Limbs and vegetation must be trimmed back from the edge of and at least eight feet above.
  • Streets/Alleys: Limbs and vegetation must be trimmed back from the curb and at least 14 feet above.
  • Grass and Weeds: Maintain grass and weeds at a maximum height of 12 inches throughout property and to the edge of the street or alley.
  • Corners: Vegetation within ten feet from the curb should be kept at a height of two feet.
  • Fire Hydrants: Remove trees or plants within five feet.
  • General: Trim or remove vegetation blocking signal lights, traffic, and pedestrian signs.

Residents are asked to call Austin 3-1-1 to report any dead or damaged trees on public property.

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