Trees experience the driest period in Texas history

Brent Gruesel, Brothers Tree Service owner
Brent Gruesel, Brothers Tree Service owner
Donald Grosman, Texas Forest Service
Donald Grosman, Texas Forest Service

HUNTINGTON, TX (KTRE) - "This is an unprecedented drought," said Texas Forest Service official, Donald Grosman.

Search through the records, and you won't find a drier seven-month period since 1895. It's the year Texas Forest Service officials actually started measuring rainfall.

Tree experts blame the scorching sun and next to no rain for serious damage to the Texas Forest Country.

"There will be trees that will look sick, that'll look dried up," said Brothers Tree Service owner, Brent Gruesel.

"Trees that are stressed, hardwoods, may begin to lose some of their leaves to survive during these stressful situations," said Grosman.

The historic wildfires, still burning in Trinity and Polk counties, antagonize the situation.

With plant life already weakened by drought, it's perfect fuel for fires.

"Trees in the area of the fire are going to become even more stressed because of the fire damage caused to the leaves and the trunks of trees," said Grosman.

The weight of a tree forces the soil to give way and then drop. Others stay standing, literally dried into place.

"Because of the dry weather, the soil packs and tightens up a lot more, so they don't really push over as easy," said Gruesel.

Another culprit is bugs. Ips and pine bark beetles prey on sick trees, sucking the remaining life out of them.

There's only one option for the Pineywoods. It has to fight to survive. If trees don't adapt, the Texas Forest Service expects some varieties will disappear.

"Tree species that require more moisture are going to start to fade out. Trees that are more resistant to drought may begin to take over certain areas of forest," said Grosman.

From the forest, to your backyard, experts say older trees are better suited to survive harsh conditions.

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