The Tree Board
The Tree Board of the City of Las Vegas is a volunteer committee appointed by the Mayor and serving at the pleasure of the Mayor.
Our purpose is to advise the City on issues related to the community forest. We help the city plan, plant, and protect its forest. Our goals include increasing safety by protecting the citizens of Las Vegas from hazardous conditions in our parks and on our streets, preserving the legacy of trees that we already have by maintenance and remedial pruning, renewing the forest by the planting of new trees, and improving the quality of life in Las Vegas by securing the benefits that the forest provides for future generations.
Our membership is drawn from the community and includes interested citizens as well as representatives of local and regional organizations that have an interest in and knowledge about community forestry.
At present, our membership includes representatives from the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico State Forestry Division, the Tierra y Monte Soil and Water Conservation District, NMSU county extension service, and interested citizens with commercial tree service and retail nursery experience, and International Society for Arboriculture member certified in tree hazard determination and other interested citizens.
We are always seeking new members. Anyone interested in joining the committee should attend a few meetings, participate in some of our projects and see if they are ready to commit to this community service.
The Tree Board has been responsible for applying to The National Arbor Day Foundation for the certification of Las Vegas as a Tree City USA. To qualify a city must have a Tree Board, officially celebrate Arbor Day, have a tree ordinance to protect the forest, and spend at least $2.00 per person in the city on forest-related work.
As of 2022 the city has received this prestigious award for each of the last 22 years and is the longest standing Tree City in the state of New Mexico. We have been responsible for procuring grant funds that have done literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hazard mitigation and forest renewal activities in Las Vegas. We have performed tree inventories in our parks and participated in a state-wide inventory of trees in historic districts in the county seats of New Mexico.
These inventories help us to determine the condition of the urban forest and help us to make responsible recommendations to the city with respect to projects that further the goals described above. The inventories have pointed out the decline of our forest over time and the need to maintain the present community forest and to renew the forest by increasing both the age and species diversity of the forest. To accomplish these goals the Tree Board has formed partnerships with the city, Tierra ay Monte SW CD, NM Forestry, and others.
The committee presently meets virtually and video is posed on Youtube. We hope to return soon to in person meetings at the Tierra ay Monte Soil and Water Conservation District Office on Seventh street.
Meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month except for November and December. Meetings begin at 3:30 pm and last for one hour.
Las Vegas Community Forest
The community forest of Las Vegas has an interesting history. The New Mexico Forestry Division's Urban and Community Forest Program has performed a state-wide survey of the history and present conditions in the community forests of New Mexico's county seats. The report of this project can be found at www.tinyurl.com/urbantreesnm and makes very interesting reading. Major results include that the community forests are in decline.
Most of our community forest consists of a single tree species, the Siberian Elm, and was planted so long ago that these trees have reached and even surpassed the usual life span of street trees. If we do not undertake serious efforts to maintain and replace these trees we can look forward to a much reduced forest for our children and grandchildren. An old Chinese saying says, ”One generation plants the trees and another gets the shade.”
We enjoy that shade and it is our turn to provide shade for our future generations. Age is not the only problem that our forests suffer. As mentioned above, a large portion of our trees are a single type, the Siberian Elm. As we replant the forest we need to increase both the species diversity and the age diversity of the forest to withstand the various challenges that the forest will face in the future.
According to the survey of 2017, over 10% of our street trees are dead or dying, nearly 75% of our forest has identifiable problems, approximately 25% of the surveyed trees were identified as hazardous, over one third (35%) of our forest is in poor condition, meaning “tree in a general state of decline which cannot be corrected through management,” Management may prolong their lives but they will eventually die from the problems, only 12 % are in good condition and only 2% are in excellent condition and older larger trees are declining faster than younger smaller trees (older 41% poor, younger 13% poor).
These conditions highlight the urgent need for hazard mitigation, removing hazardous trees and limbs, remedial pruning and forest renewal, planting of new trees in the community forest. The NM Urban Forestry Program recommendation, “a tree management and forest replacement plan would benefit Las Vegas greatly.”
Our most recent survey 2021:
These small improvements reflect City and Tree Board efforts to remove dead and hazardous trees on streets and in parks.
Dead or Dying
Las Vegas Tree Ordinance
Here is the link to the city tree ordinance, https://ecode360.com/14560680.
Some points specific to the responsibilities of individual citizens of Las Vegas are listed below;
A. It is the duty of the adjacent owner (not including the City) to prune trees located in the City right-of-way.
B. It shall be unlawful as a normal practice for any person, firm, or City department to top any tree on public property.
C. Unless specifically authorized by the Public Works Director or his/her designee no person shall intentionally damage, cut or carve any public tree or allow any liquid or solid substance, which is harmful to such tree, to come in contact with it.
D. Property owners shall consult with the Public Works Director or his/her designee on any of the following acts:
Cultivate, treat, prune, remove, or otherwise disturb any tree in public places.
Trim, prune, or remove any tree or portions thereof if such tree or portions thereof reasonably may be expected to fall on any public place.
Place on public places, either above or below ground level, a container or tree or other plants.
Damage, cut, tap, carve or transplant any tree, shrub, or other plant located in any public place.
Attach any wire, nail, sign, poster, or any other man-made object to any tree or other plant located in any public place.
Any person violating or failing to comply with any provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined a sum of no less than $50 and no more than $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.
Topping is against the law in Las Vegas, NM!
Don’t Top Trees! Think of it like a bad haircut that could kill you!
Topping is perhaps the most harmful tree pruning practice known. Yet, despite more than 25 years of literature and seminars explaining its harmful effects, topping remains a common practice.
Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or to lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the leadership role. Other names for topping include “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over". Below is a link to an International Society for Arboriculture publication about the practice of topping https://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/WhyToppingHurts.pdf
Resources Links & Downloads
Tree Board recommendations of trees and shrubs that can survive and thrive in Las Vegas - Click Here for more information
Tree Index by Common Names - Click Here for more information
https://www.fs.usda.gov › Internet › FSE_DOCUMENTS › stelprdb5368392 - Tree Owners Manual
- Site helps you inspect your trees for hazards.www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/housing/treedefect/hazards.htm #what
- Colorado State University, Master Gardener Notes #633: Tree Plantingwww.cmg.colostate.edu/gardennotes.shtml
- (International Society of Arboriculture) Benefits of Trees Pruning Young Trees, Proper Mulching Techniques are a few titles in the series Consumer Information Program.treesaregood.org
www. Arborday.org - National Arbor Day Foundation