02023-03-09 | Environment, Santa Fe | 0 comments

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Crews are taking down dozens of elm trees on Alameda, on the river side. My first thought was, they should have started with us Europeans. We are a non- native invasive species. Walking past the tree carnage this afternoon I argued with a crew member, who shouted that I didn’t know what I am talking about.

He should read this article from the Santa Fe New Mexican, headlined Rethinking the dreaded Siberian elm:

But for all the hate, Santa Fe and many communities in New Mexico would have little shade without the dreaded Siberian elm. And now, as climate change increasingly makes the state hotter and drier, some researchers and arborists are rethinking the value of this hardy tree.


“It is a new world we live in, and elms are succeeding,” said Nate McDowell, a former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who led a Southwestern tree study that found that climate change could leave the high-desert mountains of New Mexico nearly bald, with the majority of piñon and juniper trees dying off by 2100 as a result of drought, heat and bark beetles.

“Do you really want to cut down something that is doing OK when other things are dying?” said McDowell, who is now with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests.

To me this action of cutting down fifty or more elm trees, some of which were standing on the slope down to the river, with their roots keeping the dirt from eroding, is a terribly misguided project. There are thousands upon thousands of elm trees in Santa Fe. Take these by the river down and new ones will be seeded this spring. There are also huge lawns in front of big mansions on Palace Ave that are an invasive species of grass that requires lots and lots of water to survive. The irony is that mansions on Palace Ave are probably donating money to Friends of the Santa Fe River for this project.


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