Las Vegas' future is in the trees

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By The Staff

We all think of a forest as millions of acres of green-topped mountains where water and wildlife rule the land. But there’s a forest right in our own backyards that sometimes gets overlooked — the urban forest.

An urban forest includes trees, vegetation, and associated natural resources within and around the inhabited area of a community. Urban Forests include trees in parks, tree-lined streets, trees that dot our neighborhoods and any trees within the wildland-urban interface between communities and adjacent forest and rangelands

Urban forestry addresses the ongoing management of the urban forest for the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a community. 

Our urban forest here in Las Vegas and in the surrounding communities delivers tremendous value to people that live here. Just as the trees are sometimes is overlooked, so are the many recognized benefits they give our urban environment. These include, but are not limited to:

Reducing soil erosion and the amount of storm water run-off

Moderating heat intensity and conserving building energy use

Enhancing quality of life — studies have shown that in urban areas with trees and open spaces there is reduced domestic conflict and school violence; overall people are less stressed and exhibit better attitudes at home and in the workplace

Increasing property values — healthy trees can increase a parcel’s value up to 15 percent, affecting home prices and municipal taxes

Las Vegas has a unique opportunity to shape the future of our urban forest. We have many large stature trees in our community that provide great benefits. These trees are aging and within the next 10-20 years will be reaching the stage where their maximum benefits to the community begin to decline. If we start to plan now, we can begin replacing these trees with a diversity of suitable species to ensure that our urban forest transitions into a healthy landscape rather than devoid of healthy trees. By acting now, we will ensure that our children and their children as well, will be able to enjoy the benefits of our urban forest for years to come.

Las Vegas has a long-standing citizen tree board that provides immense knowledge and history about your community’s trees. In collaboration with New Mexico State Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program, the Las Vegas Tree Board can assist the community with information and resources to plan for the future of your urban forest and begin implementing that plan.

Residents who are interested in learning more about how to help plan for the future of Las Vegas’ urban forest are strongly encouraged to contact Shannon Atencio 425-7472 with the Las Vegas Tree Board. For more information on the New Mexico State Urban and Community Forestry Program, visit www.nmforestry.com and link to “Community Forestry.”