The middle of the United States hasn’t seen a drought as destructive as this summer’s since 1956, and the results are no joke: In the plains, corn farmers are looking on as wave after wave of heat punishes their fields. In the west, ranchers searching for grass for their cattle are coming up with nothing more than scorched earth, devastated by wildfires. In the cities, government agencies are trying to figure out how to keep thousands of young trees alive. With the help of a community group, Chicago’s come up with a plan to potentially stave off disaster: by asking the community to crowdsource watering.
The Chicago Park District maintains about 250,000, but about 10,000 have been planted in the past three years. Young trees are particularly at risk for disease if they don’t get watered regularly, and the city doesn’t have the manpower to keep up, so many trees are hydrated without the help of a healthy amount of rainfall. As Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Park, a nonprofit preservation group, told Treehugger, “We’re in a crisis situation with the hottest summer in history. It would be a tremendous loss of trees, and the environmental benefits they provide by shading and cooling neighborhoods.”