The aim is to ensure thousands of campers stay safe over the Easter holidays.
SAN ANTONIO – It’s one of the city’s most time-honoured traditions: camping out in Brackenridge Park for the Easter long weekend.
But this year, after seven people were injured by a giant branch that fell to the ground at the San Antonio Zoo, city officials said they are doing everything they can to ensure everyone who shows up to celebrate stays safe.
City Ranger Michael Holinsky said: “We go through and identify the trees that need the most attention. Especially the slightly riskier ones, you’ll find that we fence them off just to make sure nobody enters the area where they could injure themselves on a tree.”
Holinsky said workers were busy cleaning and preparing for the big weekend and he believed all major work would be completed.
“On the list for removal are four trees that are completely dead or in a state of decay. All of these trees have been cordoned off to ensure no one can be harmed by them. But the goal is for them to be removed by Easter weekend,” Holinsky said.
Holinsky added that park employees are on duty every day and are trained to report any major issues, but they appreciate the public’s help.
“The more information you can give us, the better. Of course, we can’t always have eyes everywhere, and trees as living organisms can change in the blink of an eye. So if something is noticed, it is very welcome. For people to call 311 and report it, and we’ll take care of it.
Regarding the incident at the zoo, where a tree that had started to sprout and looked healthy gave way, Holinsky said, “Trees can look completely and completely healthy, and something happening underground can be something that’s high up in the canopy happens what we don’t see.”
Holinsky said it’s important for everyone to stay alert while enjoying the best that nature has to offer.
“It’s one of the most beautiful park systems I’ve seen, full of trees, and we love having help from the public and identifying tree problems,” Holinsky said.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department issued the following safety statement:
“The safety of the public and the safety of our team is a priority. Several city governments manage and/or maintain the city’s public tree canopy, including the Department of Downtown Development and Operations (River Walk), the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Development Services Department: These teams include certified and experienced gardeners, Arborists, foresters and gardeners who cater to immediate needs such as clean-up after a storm and long-term needs such as pruning, planting, watering and removing damaged, dead or diseased trees, if necessary.
Trees respond to a variety of stressors in many different ways. Stress factors can include tree age, environmental conditions, tree location and soil conditions to name a few. Falling branches, discoloration of leaves, early leaf loss or death are some common tree stress responses.
To report fallen branches or other tree issues in public spaces, please call 311 and the appropriate city office will respond. If you have concerns about the trees on your property, we recommend that you consult a certified arborist. Make sure the company is insured and certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).”
Arborist Dayton Archer said he was hired by the San Antonio Zoo to conduct a risk assessment of all trees. Archer said: “We are doing our best, but the bottom line is that trees are very low risk. They offer us a lot of benefits with little risk.” Archer said he doesn’t think anyone planning an Easter outing should fear.
“All trees have some risk, that’s a fact. But it’s very rare that they fail and hit someone compared to how often there is a car accident in the city? There are a few every day. But people are shocked when a tree falls and hits someone because it’s so rare.
Archer said that as with any activity, it’s important to pay attention.
“Don’t be paranoid, but be smart! Be aware of your surroundings. Look up and if there’s something that’s obviously dangerous, you probably shouldn’t be camping there,” Archer said.