Sep-timber is a tree's least favorite month, so let's talk stumps

Sep-timber is a tree's least favorite month, so let's talk stumps

Why was the tree stumped?

It couldn't get to the root of the problem.

Stumps protruding from Lake Granbury

You, on the other hand, don't have to be stumped about the ... stumps … near your lakeside dock if you'd like to see them gone.

Those with property along the three Brazos River Authority-owned water supply reservoirs have options when it comes to removing stumps near their dock.

It's important to remember that the stump was at one point a tree, and that tree has likely stood rooted in that location (underwater) for decades. To make things more difficult, once a tree/stump spends an extensive amount of time under water, it becomes waterlogged, which prevents the tree from rotting. 

This combination makes stumps difficult to remove from a reservoir, said Kyle Lewis, BRA project manager/program coordinator for the Lake Granbury Office.

"It’s quite the undertaking,” Lewis said. “That’s why when you hit them with a boat, they don’t give.”

Lakeside property owners at lakes Granbury and Limestone and Possum Kingdom Lake can apply for an Improvement Permit, which allows them to make improvements to the area adjacent to their property, including performing maintenance to an existing private boat ramp, constructing a retaining wall along the shoreline, dredging the lake bottom under a dock, and then, of course, removing stumps from the lake bottom.

Stumps must be entirely removed from the bottom of the lake, not just cut back. 

Stumps protruding from Lake Granbury

“We don’t want to try and fix one hazard by creating another one,” Lewis said. “You may know where you cut them, but someone else doesn’t, so it makes it very, very dangerous.”

Most stumps can’t just be pulled out by a few people, Lewis said. There are a few companies that provide the service utilizing a barge with an excavator to remove the stump. The excavator can grab hold of the stump and essentially shake it loose before pulling it out of the water. Digging a stump out isn’t allowed as it violates dredging permits. 

That is, of course, unless the lake is completely dry and you can walk up to the stump and cut it down at the ground level. As water supply reservoirs, no one is hoping for that as we all depend on that water to drink and survive.

More of your neighbors may be discussing stump-removal options as Texas faces another drought and lower water levels reveal formerly submerged hazards, such as stumps. Drought conditions are a normal part of our weather cycle in Texas that usually ends with heavy rain and flood conditions. But until then, caution is urged on the lakes as these unknown hazards make an appearance. 

If you’re considering the option, coordinate with the Brazos River Authority lake office first to discuss the work. Consider the method of removal, disposal, and mitigation measures to ensure no adverse impacts to water quality and aquatic species occurs. 

Removal is generally limited to areas immediately in the vicinity of the requestors' on-water facility (i.e. dock). And requests for stump/tree removal are considered on a case-by-case basis considering potential impacts to water quality, aquatic species, and best management practices.
In addition, removal is generally limited to stumps/trees that are considered a navigational hazard or those that pose an imminent danger to health, safety, and welfare. 
And plan your project, as dredging and stump removal is not allowed between February 1 and May 31 due to fish spawning.

“Do it right. Do it safely,” Lewis said.

The BRA removing stumps from Lake Granbury

The lake level dropped low in 2011 and 2013 during a drought, and the Brazos River Authority removed quite a number of stumps out of the reservoirs that were navigational hazards or posed an imminent danger to health, safety, and welfare

Lewis said he even pulled the foundation of a house out of the lake that had been submerged. 

“Call the office.  We’ll be glad to visit and go through the steps to make sure it’s done safely,” Lewis said.

Removing every stump will never be feasible. Not only is it expensive, but ill-advised.

These stumps provide a healthy fish habitat and cover, as well as a hunting vantage point for wildlife.

It helps to remember these three reservoirs were built by people to serve as a source of water supply. The fact that recreation also occurs is just a happy bonus.