Las Vegas Community Forest

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 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.”