Save the trees! City asks for help watering hundreds of drought-stricken trees

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) –This summer's extreme heat and drought is threatening the lives of hundreds of newly planted trees scattered across the city of Eau Claire.

The city said caring for the trees has become too great of an undertaking because of the drought.

So it's now reaching out to residents for help.

“I was thankful when they planted more trees out here,” said Dixie Dewitz.

But it wasn't long before Dewitz and other neighbors on Stein Blvd. started to notice all the new greenery was starting to brown.

“They're growing near the hot pavement. Naturally the soil in those boulevards aren't the most ideal,” said Todd Chwala, the city’s forestry superintendent.

He said a large number of the nearly 600 trees planted this year are now on the brink.

“It really has required us to refocus some of our priorities and effort into watering the trees and keeping them viable,” Chwala said.

And keeping the trees watered isn't the only problem city workers have to deal with.

Chwala said crews are still busy cleaning up downed trees from last May's powerful windstorm.

“What I think we see right now is trees that are going into early senescence or early dormitory,” Chwala said.

But there's still the risk the trees could bite the dust so the city is reaching out to neighbors.

“Anytime we can get their help watering those trees and caring for those trees to any degree is going to be a plus for the city of Eau Claire’s canopy in the future,” Chwala said.

While people would be using their own money to pay for the watering, the forestry superintendent said it’s needed to not lose out on the big bucks spent on the trees.

“It’s on their boulevards … I think everyone should be pitching in,” said Daniel Hatleli, who lives in front of a newly planted tree on Main St.

Dewitz said her neighbors on Stein Blvd. have bought new hoses to help keep the trees alive.

“Some people are hurting and those that can, why not help the city,” Dewitz said.

If you're going to be helping out with the watering, the city said you should set out a hose with the water on at a slow rate for a half an hour at least once a week.

It says the best time to do that is in the evening so the water can absorb overnight.

If you don’t have a hose, 20 gallons of water will provide a proper soaking.

The city said to continue watering through the summer until the ground freezes in the fall.

It said 4 inches mulch around the tree will help absorb the water.

Free woodchips are available for Eau Claire County residents at the county’s Jeffers Road collection site Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons.

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