'Taos Community Tree Care Project' underway

Flowering tree off Ranchitos Road in 2015. Katharine Egli

The "Taos Community Tree Care Project" is well underway toward growing a healthier tree care program in the town of Taos. Thanks to enthusiastic participation in community meetings, the work of numerous volunteers and public officials and dogged persistence, we now have a basic understanding of tree-related priorities and passions in the community. The Taos Tree Board is in the process of consolidating this information into a planning document that will help guide decisions, provide information and continue communications around trees in our community. This document is intended for both the town administration and private citizens alike.

It is known that trees are reluctant to agree to human-imposed boundaries of ownership on the landscape. This may be an inconvenience, but the reality is that the best care for trees strives to accommodate these rebellious habits, requiring an attentive and actively engaged public and private collaboration. The tree care plan therefore intends to consider the trees in the Taos landscape as a holistic forest of diversely interrelated entities, humans included. Building on past tree care-planning efforts, three community meetings were held to continue the dialogue that would lead to earnest collaboration. The first, held on Nov. 10, 2016, helped the community set priorities. The second workshop on Jan. 12 expanded on this information to generate specific goals, objectives and strategies. The third workshop on March 16 reviewed the strategic planning results with community members to validate the direction and elaborate details. The next steps involve translating these suggestions into actions.

The plan will attempt to span the public-private divide to set into motion a program for the town of Taos to better care for trees under its responsibility, while also manifesting educational opportunities and resources for citizens. This level of coordination, although daunting, is necessary to adequately address the broad need for care across property lines. For example, it would not make significant impact on the community forest to only address the trees under the town's responsibility. Nor would an educational program be effective if only private landowners and citizens were seeking its benefit. The key, we have come to believe, is to weave a standardized program of care for public trees with an educational and technical assistance program for private tree care into a cohesive and consistent vision for the entire urban forest.


The long-term sustenance of the urban and community forest is vital to the well-being of the Taos community. Trees in the town of Taos support public health, safety and food security, increase economic, aesthetic and spiritual value and provide resilience to a changing climate. Public and private stakeholders collaboratively maximize these essential contributions through educational outreach, strategic planning and proactive maintenance to continue the strong connection between Taoseños and their underlying landscapes.


• Grow a sustainable urban forest in the town of Taos.

• Increase collaboration with regional stakeholders.

• Increase education and information programs available to the public.

• Prioritize the creation of a heritage tree program.

• Connect with Taos' agricultural traditions.

• Establish a functional leadership structure and mechanism for tree care planning.

We are shooting to complete the planning stage of this project by the fall of 2017, culminating in a tree care plan for the town of Taos.

Comments are welcome at taostreeboard @ gmail.com.

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