Austin set to cut down palm trees after 90% die in winter freezes

The scenic view of palm trees along the roadways in Austin might soon be no more.

"We’ll see just how resilient is Mother Nature by just how much will survive. I think it’s prudent to play the waiting game for a little bit but we’re not gonna wait too long," said Lisa Killander, manager of the Austin Public Works Forestry program.

The city estimates up to 90% of the palm trees in the city are dead following the harsh winter storms earlier this year.

"We are assessing palm trees and other trees for their vitality to see whether they’re going to live," said Killander, adding they will begin next month removing the dead palm trees along streets, sidewalks, alleys, and other land designated for public use.


She said a dead palm tree can snap and fall without warning causing potential danger. "The palm trees will be removed very carefully. We will take it down piece by piece and leave the stump on the ground you’ll just see a flat circle on the ground," she said.

While the city works to remove the trees within their right of ways, they’re urging homeowners to get their own trees inspected, as a dead tree can be dangerous during hurricane season. "You want to be proactive with that. You want to get it away from over your house, over the street, over the sidewalk," said Killander.

One issue the city is expecting to run into is these palm trees while they look nice can also be homes for bats that would need a new home if taken down. "Public Works Forestry has been in contact with Austin Bat Refuge and we’re gonna work in conjunction with them but we do have to take down a palm in the public right away and check for bats," said Killander.


As for the future of palm trees in Austin, Public Works said they don’t have any plans right now to plant new ones however businesses can have the option to do so.