| News |

How Dallas Will Count Its Trees: Lasers!

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Too bad that tree-hugger Alexa's not here -- me, I can't see the forest for the trees, but she knows all about the city's efforts to take an inventory of our trees and the ramifications of this particular head count. Still, there's the question of how to do it in the first place. Because, see, back in Ye Olden Days, volunteers would actually go out and actually count the tree, which sounds like more fun than you could shake a stick at, if that's your idea of a good time. But arborist Steve Houser, chair of the Dallas Urban Forest Advisory Committee, and Dr. Fang Qiu, associate professor of remote sensing at the University of Texas at Dallas, had a better idea: laser scanning! And: hyperspectral imaging.

Today, both the city council's Quality of Life and Transportation and Environment committees will be briefed on the novel method of inventorying trees -- a method formally known as Hyperspectral Remote Sensing, which has been used since the '80s to map minerals and involves using an infrared scanner attached to the bottom of a plane. (Amazing the things you learn before 9 a.m. And, look, there's even a video!) Houser, going where no city's gone before, raised all by his lonesome about $100,000 for a pilot program involving Reverchon Park and Turtle Creek to see if it was even possible, and he and Qiu liked what they saw enough to want to push forward with the infrared census -- which'll cost $2.5 million to collect and process, but, still, better than counting by ones.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.