Volunteer: Drought creating emergency situation for Louisville trees

Group launches plan to water dry trees, plants around Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Another 90-degree September day with little to no rain in the forecast is just the latest indication drought conditions across WAVE Country aren't improving.

Now, one group of neighbors is coming together to fix what they call an emergency situation.

On Eastern Parkway, some said a crisis is happening in plain sight.

“It’s shutting down,” Joshua White said, describing a young tree. “Quote, unquote, organ failure.”

For the leaves still hanging on, death is slowly overtaking them as browns push out the greens of life.

“It’s starting to yellow and brown,” White said. “You’ll see the canopy has about half to about a third of the leaves it should have.”

Unlike grass, White said, if trees lose all their color before winter dormancy, they can’t be brought back to life.

“Right now, its an emergency,” White said. “We have 24 to 48 hours to turn this around before we possibly lose tens of thousands of dollars of planted trees.”

White said trees, mostly three years old and younger, are in need of water and struggling to survive. He said it’s hard to say exactly why, but the ongoing drought is the likely culprit.

“I contacted a few of the members of Metro Parks that are responsible for the trees and found out that they are shorthanded right now,” White said.

Dr. Mesude Ozyurekoglu, Assistant Director of Louisville Parks and Recreation told WAVE 3 News, “Our team has been watering recently planted trees all summer long. Yes, the resources are limited, but this is not directly related with budget. Some of the staff members left the team, we are in the process of hiring to replace them. We have three watering trucks out and keep watering trees. We`ll experience some mortality due to the drought conditions, but dropping leaves at this season does not necessarily mean the trees are dead as some of the species like sycamore and tulip poplars start dropping leaves at the end of August. We appreciate any help to take care of trees."

White said he couldn’t wait and, with Metro approval, has organized what he dubbed an emergency citizen conservation corps to water trees on Eastern Parkway and Cherokee Boundary Road on Wednesday.

“We’ll figure out why they couldn’t do this later on,” White said.

The group organized through the Nextdoor app plans to use volunteers and water trucks to save trees before it’s too late.

“If you see something wrong, and you have the resources to fix it, then, you should fix it,” he said.

White said those who wish to volunteer can contact him via email at JoshuaiWhite1@gmail.com.

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