FORT WORTH, Texas – Sustained major flooding in 2015 and 2016 at three East Texas U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ lakes has taken a significant toll on those lakes’ forest resources. To minimize damages downstream from Sam Rayburn, Wright Patman and Lake O’ the Pines reservoirs, the Corps held record floodwaters until they could be safely released. This kept roots of trees located at lower and mid elevations under water during the growing season for months. Sustained inundation causes many trees to die just as if there were a prolonged drought because a healthy mixture of both oxygen and water is necessary for roots to be able to transfer the moisture upwards into the tree.
Tree roots of southern pines and uphill hardwoods usually begin to die after 30 to 45 days of continual inundation and are usually beyond recovery after 45 to 60 straight days. Unfortunately, for much of the forested lands surrounding Sam Rayburn, Wright Patman and Lake O’ the Pines in 2015 and 2016, the duration of inundation exceeded these tolerance levels at higher elevations than in previous flood events.
Now that floodwaters have receded, Corps foresters are working to salvage as much dying timber as practical before winter rains make ground conditions unsuitable for logging operations. After removing dying trees, flood-tolerant species such as baldcypress and overcup oak, water hickory, Nuttall oak, cherrybark oak, and water oak will be planted in their place. These replacement species are expected to tolerate future flooding much better and generally have longer life spans and greater wildlife value. In the long term then, the new forest cover will be much better suited to handle such flood events than the species that were there when the reservoirs were constructed.
For more information please contact the Pineywoods Regional Office at 903-665-3911.
About the Fort Worth District: The Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was established in 1950. The District is responsible for water resources development in two-thirds of Texas, and design and construction at military installations in Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico. Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: www.swf.usace.army.mil and SWF Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/usacefortworth/.
Release no. NR 17-003