Trinity Trees Update: July, 2011

Trinity Trees: Update July, 2011
$162,000. Chesapeake landscaping project, all but dead

I recently reported how gas drilling companies such as, Chesapeake and XTO have industrialized much of the Trinity River greenbelt in Fort Worth, including sections of the highly prized, Trinity Trails System. One of the first shots fired across the bow of the greenbelt was at a magical little place called, Trinity Trees.

Backstory---In 2007, Chesapeake Energy bought one of Fort Worth's most treasured green spaces known as Trinity Trees. The heavily-wooded 8.33-acre grove sits along the banks of the Trinity River near a popular hike-bike trail that has been used for generations. It contains some of the oldest and largest trees in Fort Worth.

Most people thought, erroneously, that the property was publicly owned because of misleading signs that had been posted for years. Not so. Although Chesapeake could have put the pad-site elsewhere, away from the grove of trees, they chose not to for financial reasons. Here's what Chesapeake rep, Julie Wilson, said in 2008:

"We've done it very responsibly, and it's hard for anyone to see or to even notice that they're down."

As a way to appease the public, Chesapeake agreed to plant $162,000. worth of landscaping including about 300 trees to camouflage the pad-site. The plantings did little to disguise the 25' sound wall of ugly, brown fabric or the noise, dust and fumes from drilling and fracking.

In a separate agreement, Chesapeake also agreed to donate $500,000. into the City Tree Fund, some of which has been paid. You can determine for yourself whether or not this is an act of philanthropy, greenwashing or buying good will to get the permit they so desperately wanted. The trees are unable to speak for themselves.

Four years later, Chesapeake has drilled some of the six proposed gas wells. They use millions of gallons of nearby river water water to frack the wells. But they forgot to water their $162,000. worth of landscaping.

According to one estimate, 90% of the trees and shrubs are now dead. Possible culprits are air pollutants, broken irrigation system and a brutal Texas summer. But the main culprit is neglect by owner. Once they got the permit, their priorities shifted. It happens everywhere they drill.

Only time will tell if the remaining old growth trees will survive the 24/7 onslaught of fumes from Chesapeake's gas wells. No amount of man-made plantings will ever replace what God planted.