This week, tourists and residents alike are being treated to Mother Nature's best in Washington, D.C.: blue skies, warm spring temperatures and the city's beloved cherry blossom trees putting on their best show.?
The delicate pink blossoms are at their peak and expected to last for an extended period.?
But the popularity of the annual blooms is one of the reasons the iconic trees are in peril.?
Officials say the decades of wear and tear and rising sea levels are causing chronic flooding problems at the Tidal Basin, the 107-acre man-made reservoir on the Potomac River that is home to thousands of cherry blossom trees.?
"The Tidal Basin is at a pivotal moment," Jeff Reinbold, acting superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks division of the National Park Service, told the Associated Press. "The area was never designed for the kind of use it sees today."
The National Park Service, the Trust for the National Mall and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are partnering to try to save the Tidal Basin. Their efforts will include rebuilding the sea wall, addressing routine flooding in the area, as well as improving the walkways that are too narrow to accommodate the modern crowds.?
Officials say the area gets flooded twice a day at high tide and the silt concentration in the water is shortening the life span of the cherry trees that ring the basin.
Early estimates are the rehabilitation project will require as much as $500 million, with organizers seeking a combination of government money and private donations, AP reports.
The Trust for the National Mall has also partnered with the Cherry Blossom Festival to raise money to preserve and maintain the trees. On its website, the trust says it aims to raise $1,000 for each of the 3,800 cherry trees on the National Mall.