Lack of moisture in the White Mountains not only puts the area in danger of fire but stresses the trees. Bark beetles are native to forests and can play important ecological roles. However, when dry conditions last for years, it’s an invitation for the beetles to cause extensive mortality. In the last decade or so, bark beetles have been found in spruce, lodge pole, pinyon-juniper, and ponderosa forests.
It is the responsibility of the property owner to cut dead trees. Maintenance crews cut down dead trees in undeveloped areas and on lots owned by the developer on a regular basis. The Village’s maintenance crew inspects common areas and buffer zones for trees that need attention. Trees are living things and die like the rest of the world.
The City of Show Low passed an ordinance in 2004 cracking down on property owners who fail to remove trees infected with diseases, parasites and insects like tree-killing bark beetles. Under the law, if anyone complains about dead trees on private property, the owner has sixty days to remove the trees or the owner will find himself or herself facing a public nuisance complaint in municipal court.
Trees die for reasons other than bark beetles. When a lot is developed in the Village, the extra soil is spread around the property and sometimes piled around the remaining trees. Some people are under the impression that this will eventually kill the tree. That depends on the tree. Most of the pine trees in the developed portion of the Village have been disturbed in some way, with at least half being covered with fill dirt. Few have died. Many trees in the undeveloped portions of the Village have been removed because they died, yet they were never disturbed. A Google search will find articles that will argue either point; soil piled around the base of a tree may affect them or it may not affect them. Foresters in this area that will tell you it’s a crapshoot.
The Village management company will be enforcing the removal of dead trees on owner’s property. Please be mindful of the trees on your lot. If you have a dead tree, please remove it promptly. However, until Stage III fire restrictions are lifted, you have a reprieve, as you cannot cut trees. You may still be able to use an axe, but I would call the fire department first.