Drought in the Barton Creek Greenbelt

Fallen Spanish Oak in the Barton Creek Greenbelt

Fallen Spanish Oak in the Barton Creek Greenbelt

If you’re in the Barton Creek Greenbelt and see a large tree that has fallen down it’s probably a Red or Spanish Oak (Quercus buckleyi). The drought over the last few years has been especially hard on these trees, which are probably going to slowly disappear from our local woodlands unless we get back into a wetter cycle.

During my walk today I came across an area where even the cedar trees (ashe juniper or Juniperus ashei) had died and it appeared to be in transition to grassland. This was probably the state of a lot of this area prior to European settlement and the associated fencing and overgrazing. Native Americans encouraged fires that tended to keep the area free of hardwoods except in creek bottoms. I worry that the build up of dead wood makes it more and more likely that we’ll have a serious fire in the greenbelt.

Drought stressed cedar

Drought stressed cedar

It looks like this year is going to be hard on the American Beauty-berries again. My favorite patch looked a little sad today with lots of  stressed looking plants and immature berries. Now that we’re into summer our best hope of rain is a tropical storm.

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