Ask Us: Why are willow oak trees going to be removed at City Lake?

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 16, 2019

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to

SALISBURY — After 23 years, City Park Lake is going to be dredged and drained this year because of a buildup of the aquatic weed hydrilla and sediment.

As a result, though, willow oak trees at the lake will be removed and then replaced along with new grass to help with runoff and erosion problems. A reader asked why this is necessary.

The city is pursuing mechanical methods to drain the lake and remove fish and a foot of soil before the lake is dredged by a contractor. Then, the lake will be filled again as it rains.

A news release from the city of Salisbury on Friday cited several reasons for removing the current trees. By removing them, improvements can be made to the soil, runoff can be managed and grass can be planted along with new trees.

Moreover, the fact that roots are growing above ground makes the current trees a tripping hazard.

A third reason is the need for an access road to the lake for the dredging contractor. This is easiest to do at the shallow end of the lake between two willow oaks.

“Building the road will require the placement of a stone base on the trees’ root system,” the news release said. “Over time, truck traffic will compact the soil and make absorption of water and nutrients difficult for the trees, causing them stress and (making them) likely to die. In addition, removal of the stone after the contractor has completed the dredging will damage the trees’ root system even more, again causing the trees to die.”

Finally, removing the trees will facilitate installation of a new walkway and pier around the lake.

“If we leave the trees and try to work around them, we create problems when we cut to install the new walkway and fill around the trees to repair the drainage. This, too, will stress the trees,” said the news release. “Now that we are able to move forward with the City Park Lake project, we have to think about the best uses of the park as a whole and the long-term effects of the landscaped areas around it. That includes taking out and then replacing the willow oaks and crape myrtles at City Park Lake.”