City Forester plans to triage trees

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Many of Albuquerque’s trees are getting old and in the past few years, they’ve been hit by drought and storm.

The new City Forester says some of the city’s trees will need to come down soon, before they fall down on something or someone.

“I think the real issue is, is there a potential for harm?” said Joran Viers, hired as City Forester in March. “Regardless of whether someone sues us over it or not, we don’t want someone to get hurt.”

The city is responsible for more than 20,000 trees in parks and medians.

For more than three years, the City Forester position was vacant. The Parks and Rec Department said it was difficult finding a qualified candidate.

During that time, a 10-person city forestry crew ran around maintaining trees in 300 city parks on their own.

With their plates full with day-to-day maintenance work, long-term planning was pushed to the back-burner.

Now that they’ve hired someone as City Forester, trees will have to be triaged.

Viers says his first order of business is to figure out which ones are in the worst shape and deal with them first.

“To the degree we’re taking and taking them out when they’re in serious decline and replacing them with new trees, when a big storm does come through we’ll have less damage,” Viers said.

Viers says last year’s summer storm damage showed how many old and declining trees are at risk.

“That was an event that knocked down a lot of trees at one time and kind of caught our attention but in reality that need to replace old and declining trees is an ongoing thing,” he said.

The 20,000 city-owned trees don’t include those on private property.

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If you’re interested in planting trees on your own property, Parks and Rec, along with New Mexico State Forestry, will be giving away 1,500 free seedlings on Saturday, April 26.

The giveaway will take place at Jerry Cline, Alamosa and Tingley Parks from 9 am to 11 am. For more information»

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