“Cooling College Station” city leaders considering five-year urban heat mitigation plan

Published: Sep. 25, 2022 at 8:36 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -The city of College Station is furthering its efforts to diminish and mitigate the impacts of heat islands throughout the city.

College Station staff gave a presentation to city leaders during Thursday night’s council meeting.

The plan “Cooling College Station” is a five-year comprehensive plan to combat urban heat by planting 4,787 trees in underplanted parks, greenspace pathways, right of ways & medians, and residential neighborhoods.

City staff says trees that are strategically planted in locations that emit or generate heat such as roads and sidewalks can mitigate and curb the effects of urban heat islands.

Heat islands are located in certain pockets of the city that absorb and trap more heat than others. Typically, they’re in the more urbanized areas with high-rise buildings, parking lots, and asphalt roads. These heat islands can experience average temperatures that are five to ten degrees hotter than rural areas.

The plan would come at an estimated cost of $3,213,850 and could change pending inflation and the type of trees planted.

High-priority locations in the city include Edelweiss park, Sandstone Park, Edelweiss Gartens Park, Anderson Park, Pebble Creek, Tarrow & Wayne Smith Athletic Complex, Wolf Pen Creek Park, and the Veterans Park & Athletic Complex. An estimated 1,289 trees are expected to be planted at these locations.

2,806 trees are expected to be planted near right of ways and other city properties.

Other areas being considered are the College Station Cemetery, The Aggie Field of Honor & Memorial Cemetery, along with several other parks.

City leaders would also like to see 2,500 trees planted in residential areas.

A five-year program would breakdown to an average of 958 trees being planted a year at an estimated cost of $643,172 a year. It’s a cost that the city council agreed unanimously is worth the price tag.

“It seems every way I look at this, this is a good investment, and our mission is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents,” said College Station Place 2 City Councilman John Crompton. “It’s a tremendous investment I think and the key to this is you go big or you go home. There’s no point in planting a hundred trees from my point of you. You’ve got to do this in a big way.”

The Texas A&M Forest Service is also in agreement with the proposal and has vowed to partner with the city in its efforts. The Texas A&M Forest Service is offering to pay $15,000 per year for two years to purchase and plant trees to help combat urban heat islands. The forest service also offered 250 Texas Tested, Texas Tough seedlings for annual residential tree distribution events.

Mac Martin, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Partnership Coordinator, says the “Cooling College Station” Initiative could make a big impact on the way of life for those that work, live, and visit College Station.

“Tree shade can provide between 20 and 45-degree temperature differences,” said Martin. “It’s things like asphalt temperatures that really absorb heat, those kinds of surfaces. Shaded areas provide tons and tons of relief.”

Martin says that’s not the only benefit that trees provide.

“They have natural cooling processes both through evaporation and transpiration and that’s kind of the process of those roots absorbing water underground and then releasing those vapors through the leaves and that has natural cooling processes that give cooling temperatures throughout communities as well,” said Martin.

Urban Heat Island Effect Graphic
Urban Heat Island Effect Graphic(KBTX)

College Station residents like Erica Derouen say more shade and trees would be very nice, especially during family time at Sandstone Park.

“I think the more trees the better,” said Derouen. “When we bring little ones out here to play, it’s easier for them to stay cooler and allows them to be more active outside instead of having to stay indoors all day during hot days like this.”

City leaders are still considering how to budget and implement the program. The College Station City Council is expected to receive an updated presentation from Planning and Development Services Director Michael Ostrowski in the coming weeks.