More than 70 trees in the Washington parks system are slated for removal this fall and winter, according to Darren Dunkle, parks director.

Dunkle told the park board Tuesday night that the city’s new horticulturist/arborist, Josh Wargo, was tasked with identifying trees that are dead, diseased, dying or hazardous.

“A lot of it (the damage) is due to stress from the drought,” Dunkle said. “We were waiting to see if some of those trees would come out of it or not, but they didn’t.”

Trees to be removed have been marked with an orange X.

Removal of the trees likely will occur throughout the winter as the parks department staff has time.

Prior to any removal, Dunkle said, Wargo will submit a report of the trees that need to be removed, along with the reason.

At that time it will be determined if any of the trees can be treated for disease or if they may recover. However, if the trees are dead or hazardous, they will be removed.

“Safety always comes first,” said Debbie Toedebusch, park board president.

“Safety is No. 1,” Dunkle agreed. “I don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Dunkle said he understands the importance of trees and it is never a goal to see how many trees can be cut down.

“I don’t want to take out trees that we don’t have to. I’m a tree person; I know the value of trees,” he said. “We’re not just doing this to clear land.”

Dunkle said that removing just over 70 trees is not a lot, considering that there are more than 450 acres in the parks system.

“From the public perception — just because the leaves are green and it looks healthy doesn’t mean they’re healthy,” he said.

Some of the trees have hollow trunks and are in danger of blowing over in a storm, others are noticeably dead.

“They’re issues,” he said.