BUFFALO, N.Y. — IF YOU WANT TO SEE FALL FOLIAGE NOW, YOU WON’T HAVE TO GO FAR. IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE TO KEEP ANY PLANTS ALIVE IN THIS DROUGHT, AND NOW EXPERTS SAY TREES ARE STARTING TO SHUT DOWN TOO. EXPERTS SAY THE EFFECTS OF THIS DROUGHT WILL BE FELT FOR YEARS TO COME.
If you feel like you’re wilting from the heat, you’re not the only one.
“It’s actually the worst that I can remember,” said Robert Stotz, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Operations Director.
“Probably worse than the drought in 2012. Normally droughts start later on in the season,” said Shane Daley, an Erie County forester.
“The trees right now are shutting down, going dormant and they’re just going into their self-preservation mode, which would be dormancy,” said Stotz.
Leaves are shriveling and falling off. Some trees are more susceptible to the drought.
“In 2012, we did lose a lot of Sugar Maple trees,” said Daley.
Experts say even though the trees are going into dormancy now, the biggest effect of this drought on the trees will be felt years down the road.
“The trees naturally will come back next year, but the damage is going to be in the following years. They’re more susceptible to insect and disease,” said Stotz.
In the meantime, the area’s parks are working to help the trees weather the heat.
“We’re doing everything from watering with garden hoses, sprinklers. We have some watering tanks, going from tree to tree. We have gator bags on. We actually even have an old pumper fire truck,” said Stotz.
“Usually, we’d be concentrating on the newly planted trees, and not so much the mature trees. Usually there’s enough water from nature that we don’t have to depend on watering mature trees.”
“We actually let the grass grow a little taller. That actually keeps the moisture in the ground,” Daley said. That’s all we can do on a wide scale, like the parks system.”
There might be a little bit of a silver lining.
“We’ve been able to focus on more maintenance items right now. This time of year, where we’d be cutting grass every day. We’re able to get different work done at this time of year,” said Daniel Rizzo, the Erie County Parks Commissioner.
Experts say homeowners should wait at least a year to prune any dead spots off trees because leaves still could come back next year.
By Katie Gibas