Trees

The Town of Sahuarita knows pretty much everything it needs to about its trees, thanks to a recent tree survey. Now it has some work to do.

The survey, led by the Parks and Recreation Department and funded through a grant from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, counted every tree, noted their condition and made suggestions on how to keep them healthy and thriving. The grant also helped to pay for a consulting arborist.

Sahuarita is using the inventory results, delivered in a report May 12, to determine best practices for diversifying its tree population and to come up with a plan.

What do we have?

The town used volunteers to inventory trees in fall 2020.

The team found there are 3,736 trees at town parks, along streets and at the municipal complex; there are 22 species.

The bulk of the trees, 2268, are along streets.

There are 1,060 trees divided among five parks:

•Anamax Park: 255

•North Santa Cruz Park: 166

•Parque los Arroyos: 132

•Quail Creek-Veterans Municipal Park: 265

•Sahuarita Lake Park: 242

The remainder of trees inventoried, 408, were at the Town’s Municipal Complex.

The majority of trees fall into five genus: mesquite, palo verde, ash, desert willow and oak.

During the inventory, the condition of each tree, such as distresses.

When it comes to the trees on streets, 2% have mistletoe, a parasitic plant that attaches to a host plant and steals its water and nutrients. Another 1% of the park trees have mistletoe.

Other issues that were noted include decay, poor pruning practices, termites and cracks.

Winter Sunscald, which is when frozen tissue on the south side of a trunk thaws then rapidly freezes, was found in some trees, most notable at North Santa Cruz Park.

Recommendations

The arborist recommended action steps to the committee that included training staff on proper watering techniques and how to deal with specific disease. The arborist also recommended a number of new species to plant to grow tree diversity.

The town appointed a five-member Tree Committee in 2019 that finalized the tree action May 12.

Their near-term maintenance plan includes training staff on proper pruning, treating termite infestations and removing diseases like mistletoe and girdled roots.

Some of their more specific goals include removing 20 trees considered dead and 99 trees considered in poor condition. They also plan to replace 119 trees already removed with diverse tree types from the town’s approved plant list.

They have also identified ongoing goals for their trees including:

•Increase the quantity of public trees owned and maintained by the town annually.

•Implement prioritized tree maintenance to mitigate: hazardous conditions, conflicts with hardscapes and other elements, nuisances, disease and other risk factors on going

•Conduct an Arbor Day celebration in April annually

•Identify and match potential grant resources with desirable tree projects and submit grant applications when appropriate

•Communicate with homeowner associations, commercial and private property owners regarding their responsibility to maintain street trees.

•Communicate with developers and property owners during development plan and building permit review regarding the need to diversify the urban forest; encourage developers and property owners to reduce the use of mesquite, palo verde, ash, desert willow, and oak, especially in the right of way ongoing.

Jamie Verwys | 520-547-9728

Reporter

Reporter Jamie Verwys grew up in Sahuarita and graduated from the high school in 2006. She lives in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2018.