ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque BioPark employees are responsible for making sure animals are happy, healthy, and safe. What you might not know, is that they do that with trees too.

Ernest Salas takes his grandchildren to Tingley Beach so they can fish together. He understands why the BioPark recently removed 12 dying and unsightly Poplar trees from the area. “It makes it a lot safer and a lot easier to cast, so yeah it’s long overdue but we’re okay. We’re patient enough to see it happen,” Salas said. 

The city hired a local company to remove the problem trees that were primarily along Tingley Drive. The city wants to make sure aging trees don’t become a threat to people, animals, and buildings.

Matthew Peterson manages the Biopark’s Botanical Garden and Heritage Farm. He explains, “Trees can certainly cause a variety of hazards but also impact structures and things of that sort as well.”

Trees aren’t just being removed – they’re being planted too. Peterson shares, “As we remove trees, we proactively search for opportunities to plant more. There’s a curated plant collection, so we definitely try to find trees that are suitable both for the climate and the site-specific.”

With so many trees nearing the end of their natural life the BioPark is looking to do inventories and risk assessments at all its attractions — from the zoo and Tingley Beach to the aquarium, botanic garden, and heritage farm. “Tree risk assessment consists of identifying any sort of dead branches, any sort of damage to the roots, also the trunk of the tree, so it’s a multitude of factors that are evaluated to ultimately determine a risk assessment,” said Peterson. 

Beyond the safety issues, this is all part of the push to replenish the aging tree canopy across the city. As part of that campaign – the city has put together an interactive map identifying every tree at every park and city facility.