In the wake of steady and severe drought and the encroaching impacts of climate change, the city of Santa Fe is seeking to fortify its tree canopy by planting more drought-resistant trees.

The TreeSmart Santa Fe program will kick off on Arbor Day, April 30, with a small tree-planting ceremony.

“We want to have the right tree, with the right resources at the right place at the right time,” acting Parks Director Melissa McDonald said.

An estimated 20 percent of the city’s more than 1,850 trees are dying, dead or in poor condition. The average urban tree only lasts seven to 10 years, which the city is seeking to change, McDonald said.

“It’s not about the quantity of trees. It’s about the quality of trees. We want to make sure every tree we plant has the greatest possible impact,” she said.

Mayor Alan Webber said another focus of the program is addressing the equity of where trees are planted. He acknowledged the city’s south side has historically received less attention when it comes to trees.

“We need to do a better job of making sure that trees and the canopy they provide, the protection they offer, is across all parts of Santa Fe,” Webber said. “Up until now, it’s safe to say that trees are sparse on the south side, and we are out to change that.”

A map of the city’s trees shows less coverage on the south side, which leads to a warmer temperature compared to other areas and potentially higher utility costs for residents and businesses, which McDonald called the “heat island effect.”

City Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth will take the lead in launching the initiative through a resolution co-sponsored by City Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta that will further lay out the goals.

The Santa Fe Community Foundation received a $30,000 donation to kick-start the program.

Romero-Wirth said the proposal is a public-private partnership and will mix public dollars with donations to continue what the city sees as a long-term project.

(10) comments

Amber Espinosa-Trujillo

Hopefully they will replace the ones on Zia road!

Susan Shanklin

the trees get planted but never get watered. good example rodeo road median where they are all dying.

Patricia Greathouse

There are new varieties of elms that are fast growing, drought resistant, beautiful, and non-invasive.

Kevin Box

Headline with no content. What is the drought tolerant shade tree of choice?

John Offersen

no where in the article does the reporter mention the guest of honor in the little tree ceremony. other than junipers, what are other drought-resistant trees?

Richard Reinders

Are we going to plant another invasive species that we will be giving grants to remove 20 years from now. I thought we already learned our lesson with Russian Olive , Elm and Salt Cedar, what is here is here because it has survived drought in the past. Lets put more thought into this than we have in the past.

Richard Reinders

PS all the new trees will need 10 gal of water per inch of caliper per week until established and more to keep surviving. We keep spending water we don't have, stop the influx of people and save 50-75 gal per day per person. and you can water 52 trees per person.

Barry Rabkin

There is no legal way to 'stop the influx of people.' People in the US can move to live wherever they want. No town or city is an island onto itself.

Richard Reinders

I agree and Santa Fe is a high desert Island with no surrounding water, people will have to bring their water with them if we keep robbing Peter to pay Paul.

John Offersen

these are all good drought-resistant trees ... ugly though.

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