Total Burn Ban

Parker says the city is watering "signature trees," pleads for help from people who love parks

Parker says the city is watering "signature trees," pleads for help from people who love parks

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The scene at Memorial Park is pretty grim. Photo by Shelby Hodge
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Mayor Parker, department heads, and council members show off the People Protecting our Parks informational flyer Photo by Whitney Radley
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Parker addresses the press at Memorial Park, with a backdrop of dead and dying trees Photo by Whitney Radley
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More than one thousand trees are dead in Memorial Park alone Photo by Shelby Hodge
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The parks department is responding first to those dead trees with falling limbs that might pose a threat to pedestrians Photo by Shelby Hodge
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Put away your tongs and charcoal briquettes: Mayor Annise Parker has issued a total burn ban in Houston city parks, effective immediately and until further notice.

This ban is part of a larger initiative, People Protecting Our Parks, that aims to promote fire prevention education and protect Houston's parks in this time of drought.

"It's easy to remember, and it's a clear message," Parker said at a press conference in Memorial Park on Friday. "This is our call for help from all people who love our parks and green spaces."

The City of Houston has never had measures to enforce issues like this one, as we're usually blessed (or burdened) by an abundance of rainfall during the summer months and into hurricane season. But now, the drought conditions have reached a dire state — millions of Houston's trees are dead and dying (at least one thousand within Memorial Park alone, with 66 million expected to die in the greater Houston area overall as a result of the drought), wildfires continue to break out across Texas — and there's no end in sight. Houston's a veritable tinderbox.

"We are watering where we can," Parker promises. "We're watering signature trees . . . and significant trees of notable size or historical connection to the City of Houston."

And the dead ones must go, starting with those trees with falling limbs that pose a threat to citizens.

Parker implores Houstonians to do what they can by watering trees on their streets and in front of their houses; contacting 3-1-1 with any information about hazardous trees, broken water mains, or grassfire outbreaks; and honoring the complete burn ban in city parks.

The City of Houston will distribute warnings to those citizens who have open flames in the park until the City Council votes on a formal ordinance on Wednesday. After that time, citations will be issued.