Trees planted near Fort Worth drilling site are dying

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on July 25, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 25 at 5:48 PM

FORT WORTH — Trees near the Trinity River in Fort Worth, not far from Rogers Road, are looking a little different these days.

Many are dying.

The trees were planted to replace the ones taken down by a natural gas company.

Chesapeake Energy made it through a protest rally, petition drive, and lawsuit to install a natural gas pad site along the Trinity Trail, across the river from Colonial Creek Country Club in Fort Worth.

Chesapeake cut down a grove of trees to build the pad site, but planted new trees around it in early 2008.

"They did great for the first couple of years," said Chesapeake spokesman Brian Murnahan.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, community activist Don Young got a tip. Nearly all those trees appear to be dead.

"It's sad," said Young. "It was once one of the most beautiful places in Fort Worth, and now it's pretty much a dead zone right here in this area."

Young e-mailed nearly everyone involved, saying, despite the millions of gallons of water it uses in natural gas production, Chesapeake "forgot to water the trees."

Murnhan, however, says the trees have been off sprinklers and self-sustaining since last year. "As with anything, we continued to go back out there on a twice-a-month basis, and everything looked like it was going well," he said.

Chesapeake did not know the trees were dying until a couple of weeks ago. "They unfortunately turned on us pretty fast," Murnahan said.

The drilling company is now using water trucks to irrigate the trees, and it plans to replant what has been lost in September, when the weather cools.

"We're just looking forward to bringing that up to where we want it to be, and where I'm sure the community would like it to be as well," Murnahan said.

The Chesapeake spokesman points out that a few other trees near the pad site are showing brown leaves as well. He says the company will look into planting varieties that can better tolerate the North Texas climate.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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