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Trees Or Fields? Parks Directors Face Tough Choices In California Drought

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Do you let the grass turn brown, or keep watering the fields and hope the plants make it through the summer?

That’s the balancing act maintenance crews at local parks are going through during this year’s drought.

The iconic Rose Garden at McKinley park may be safe, but the fields are fading fast.

“We are not going to let the roses die,” said Sacramento parks director Jim Combs. “Two days of water is not enough to keep the parks green. They will go brown but they shouldn’t die because they are still going to be getting water.”

The city is left deciding which plants, trees and grass get more water than others.

“The important thing is yes they are going to be stressed, they probably aren’t going to be real healthy but they should still be recoverable,” Combs said.

Park goers like Greg White say the choice is easy.

“I think if you had to make a choice is go for the trees it’s hard to renew those,” he said. “Grass you can seed and sod and bring back pretty quickly.”

In Roseville, Royer Park remains a vibrant green as the city puts parks first. Other areas simply don’t get water.

“The areas we are looking at that are non functional are those in detention based areas, streetscapes, down in parking lots- those aren’t real functional,” Roseville parks director Dominic Casey said. “While they are aesthetic, there is no real use.”

Baseball fields and popular picnic spots take priority when it comes to grass, but Casey says trees are pampered in dry times.

“In areas that we can, we will bring water in to make sure those trees survive,” he said. “We can use our recycled water load water trucks and bring water to those trees to make sure they stay alive and healthy.”

Drip systems and leak-detection technology may have allowed Roseville to save more than 30 percent this year, but Casey admits many of the parks may not stay green all summer if more cuts are required.

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