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arbutus xalapensis 1.jpg

Quarterly News 2015 Issue 1

Letter from the President

Greetings to all of our fellow NMASLA members and friends!  I hope 2015 is finding you well.

It’s a promising time to be a landscape architect in New Mexico.  More and more, people are talking about Complete Streets, Zuni Bowls and Parquitos; the local economy has begun to improve; and initiatives statewide are acknowledging the benefits of appropriate landscapes and pedestrian / bicyclist amenities.  But there is still plenty of work for us to do.

The year is off to an exciting and productive start, with Q1 already under our belts.  Last month we took advantage of New Mexico Complete Streets Day to hold a combination multi-modal / advocacy event in Santa Fe, where we met with many of our state legislators.  It was a great success, and lots of fun for everyone involved!  We have a full recap of the event for you later in this newsletter.

The success of Q1 has us already looking forward to our next event!  In fact, we’ve got a lot of great things in store this year for everyone:

  • April has been declared World Landscape Architecture Month.  Here in New Mexico, we plan to do our part to help bring awareness to the profession, both locally, and on a larger scale.  We’re also actively working to help local youth discover the possibilities of a career in landscape architecture.  More on that later.
  • In May, members of your Executive Committee will once again be headed to Washington D.C. to advocate for landscape architecture with our elected officials.  These conversations have been very productive the past few years, and we are optimistic about our reception again this year.  Please let us know if you have specific concerns or issues related to the profession that we should be discussing with our legislators.
  • Q2: In June, we’re headed up to Carlito Springs in Tijeras Canyon for a tour of this beautiful, recently renovated Bernalillo County open space.  We’ll be discussing the site’s cultural history, sustainable trail design, and the natural landscape.
  • Q3: This year, we are very excited to host our 20th annual Golf Tournament and Expo!  Come celebrate a milestone with us in August at Desert Greens -- whether you’re a golfer, or not.  We’ll enjoy lunch, prizes, and product demos with our wonderful sponsors at the vendor expo before heading out to the links.  This event is always a blast, and this year will be no exception!
  • Q4: In the fall, we’ll continue to build on the momentum and popularity of our Green Infrastructure conference series.  This year, we are looking at modifying the format to keep things fresh, so stay tuned to see what we have in store for all you LA’s, engineers, planners and architects out there!

I’d like to thank in advance all of our generous sponsors for enabling us to provide these services to our membership.  We’ll have information on all upcoming events available on our website at NMASLA.org.  Don’t forget to check in regularly for updates on chapter news, professional development opportunities, and job postings!  We also have our contact information on the website.  Please feel free to use it to get in touch with me for any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns you may have this year.  I’m here to help.

Finally, on behalf of your Executive Committee, I want to thank all of you out there for the hard work you contribute; not only towards making our events both educational and fun, but in demonstrating the positive and vital contributions we make as practitioners of landscape architecture.  Let’s keep it up!

I look forward to serving all of you as Chapter President this year, and can’t wait to see you at our next event!

Victor Trujillo, PLA, ASLA


John accepts Outstanding Professional Service Award from NMASLA in 2012.

John accepts Outstanding Professional Service Award from NMASLA in 2012.

In Memoriam

John Moseley, 97, of Santa Fe, a Bataan Death March survivor, former prisoner of war and National Park Service landscape architect, died at his home near Museum Hill on February 19th, 2015.  John was honored by NMASLA  with a special plaque commemorating his service at a gathering in the courtyard of the National Park Service headquarter in Santa Fe in 2012.

 He served during World War II in the Philippines and was captured on April 9th, 1942.  He endured the Bataan Death March and was held in several camps before being  transported  to a prisoner of war camp in Manchuria where he remained captive until liberated on August 20, 1945.  During his 30 year career with the National Park Service, he worked not only on U.S. National Parks, but also on national parks and historical sites in Costa Rica, Japan, Jordan, and Turkey.

 John was one of the original five ASLA members who successfully petitioned to become a “New Mexico Section” of the Colorado Chapter ASLA in 1976 before there were sufficient number to establish a separate chapter in New Mexico.



New Member Spotlight: Meet Courtney McKelvey

My interest in the outdoors began at an early age.  Growing up in mid-town Atlanta, I was unknowingly surrounded by examples of landscape architecture and urban design (both good and bad!) that would later influence my life’s work.  As a child, the call of the outdoors was irresistible.  We had a large back yard full of old trees, wildflowers, and critters.  I spent countless hours tinkering with sticks and moss, constructing intricate habitats for caterpillars.  As an older child, I roamed free in my neighborhood building fortresses in the woods and playing huge games of capture the flag with friends.  Atlanta is a lush green place, and although a sad example of urban sprawl today, the old neighborhoods inside the perimeter were relatively exempt from the chaos - a wonderland of nature tucked among the old houses.

I made my way through high school as a serious soccer player.  Three different teams, daily practice, and travelling to tournaments again placed me outside for most of my spare time.  Among other benefits of the game, soccer helped me stand out from the crowd as I looked towards college, and I was fortunate to start at Brown University in the Fall of 1998.  The next year, I headed to Boulder, and after 2 years of pricey tuition, I found myself in Athens at the University of Georgia.  I stumbled across Landscape Architecture there when I tagged along with a professor from the College of Environmental Design who was giving a tour of the campus.  As we stood under 200 year old oaks,  he pointed out the gathering spaces, the stone work, the plant material, and the rich history of the campus.  I had found the convergence of my interests, and I threw myself into the work of the rigorous 5 year program.

My husband and I moved to New Mexico in 2006.  He was born in Las Cruces, and always wanted to come back.  I had loved my time out west in college, and we have easily adapted to the dry climate and endless desert beauty.  I have been working for Dekker/Perich/Sabatini since 2006, and have enjoyed the multi-disciplinary work, fast-paced environment, and the fantastic people who work there.  I have learned SO much, and have grown so much as a designer.  Interspersed with growing our little family, I studied and passed my last section of the licensure exam in 2013.  We now have two amazing girls, Norah (5) and Tessa (2), who whole-heartedly manage to fill in all the blank spaces in my world.  I have been so impressed with the work that NMASLA is doing, and I am happy to be among this community of creative and passionate people.  I am truly excited to finally feel like I have something to give back to the natural world that shaped my life.


Welcome to this quarter's new members!

Jennifer Barr- Sunland Park

Duane Wakan- Farmington

Justin Weathermon- Albuquerque


Write here...

Our Q1 event in February was a huge success.  Read a recap and view images here.

Q2 - Save the date!

Spring-fed gardens and historic cabin at Carlito Springs

Spring-fed gardens and historic cabin at Carlito Springs

In early June, we will be taking our Q2 event to Carlito Springs, a hidden gem of the Bernalillo County Open Space system.  Carlito Springs is a unique historic property originally settled in the late 1800s featuring spring-fed landscape features and ponds, a historic orchard and terraced garden network, historic buildings including a house and camping cabins, and many unique and beautiful natural features.  The tour will include a discussion of these features, the history of Carlito Springs, as well as the recently constructed natural surface trail, with an emphasis on sustainable trail construction, and spring box.  

Continuing education credits will be offered and pre-approved through LACES.  More details to come soon...  


ASLA HQ Renovation: Creating a Center for Landscape Architecture

Chris Green, PLA, ASLA

NMASLA Trustee

At the Annual Meeting in Denver last November, the ASLA Board of Trustees approved a plan to renovate the Society’s headquarters building.  This gives us the opportunity to create a world-class Center for Landscape Architecture that will inspire and engage our staff, our membership, allied professionals, public officials, and the general public.  We will create a facility to represent the image and ethic of our great profession.  The location is incredible: halfway between Capitol Hill and the White House.

While it’s structurally sound, it’s in desperate need of a renovation after 17 years of occupancy and heavy use.  Meanwhile, our membership has grown by 50 percent and staff has expanded to meet their needs.  Currently, with the exception of the green roof, it’s not an inspiring place to work or to meet.  Those of us who have served on the Board, the CPC, juries, or committees in the past few years have seen it firsthand.

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After an RFP process, Gensler was selected as the architect, and they will consult with award-winning landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden, so the profession’s point of view will be well represented.  The renovation will include: façade alterations to open it to the street and appear more welcoming, and the awning will feature a small green roof; the street level will be reconfigured to include flexible meeting space, exhibit space, a catering kitchen, and restrooms for increased industry and public engagement; the current double-staircase will be opened up to create a three-story, day-lighted atrium, engaging the floors vertically; the garden level will host the library and archives, IT, the mailroom, a wellness room, a focus room, and a larger kitchen/café for staff; and the second and third level will have a small conference rooms and a staff admin and break room.

Because the original building mortgage was paid off last summer, the Society is in an excellent financial position.  The renovation will cost about $4 million, so a $3 million mortgage will be taken out and a line of credit established while we raise $1 million in contributions from individuals, firms, chapters, and corporations.  Your NM Executive Committee voted to pledge $1,899, payable over a 3-year period, to the renovation.  As of February 27, we were already nearly two-thirds of the way to the $1 million goal—and this is only slightly more than two months into the fundraising campaign.  In-kind product donations, such as lighting, furniture, green walls, kitchen appliances, surfacing, and other items will also be solicited from our industry partners.  Complete information on the Center for Landscape Architecture is available online at http://cla.asla.org/.


Mid-Year Meeting/Advocacy Day

On April 24-25,Chapter trustees from across the country will convene in Washington, DC, for their mid-year Board of Trustees meeting, where the agenda consists of assessing the current direction of the Society and setting new goals to build a stronger, more vibrant professional future for its members. You should know that ASLA continues to be guided by strong leadership,with a firm sense of direction, and common advocacy goals. Trustees are tasked with prioritizing the importance of each of the strategic objectives outlined in our strategic plan and then assessing the Society’s effectiveness towards achieving these objectives. These are then translated into an annual operating plan which identifies specific programs and initiatives to be carried out in support of specific objectives. Rather consistently, the top three strategic objectives have been Licensure (fortunately, this is primarily maintenance of licensure), Visibility and Awareness of the Profession, and Laws & Regulations.

Associated with the mid-year meeting is our annual Advocacy Day, where we spend time on the Hill, meeting with our legislators on issues important to our profession. Based on ASLA’s “Call for Issues” on Federal legislative priorities, the ASLA government affairs staff and the Government Affairs Advisory Committee have recommended that the Federal Priorities Agenda for 2015-2016 include the following issues:

1. Transportation Planning and Design;

2. Water and Stormwater Management;

3. Community Design and Development; and

4. Small Business Growth and Development.

As your NM delegation heads to DC next month, we would love to present our legislators with examples of the excellent projects our local New Mexico landscape architects have worked on.  So, please send us plans, descriptions, images, etc. for those great projects, which are essential in highlighting the relevancy of the above priorities to New Mexico landscape architects. Although we generally only get a few minutes with legislative staff, it’s inspiring to be able to discuss these issues on a face-to-face basis.  Your chapter leadership continues to advocate on behalf of all landscape architects, but, as these measures move forward in Congress, we will need your help in responding to advocacy alerts sent out by national staff.  Please help us help you.  Also, I urge NMASLA members to let me know if there are questions, concerns, or even praise that you would like me to pass on to the staff at the national office.


The Madrones of New Mexico

Craig Campbell, FASLA

Texas Madrone berries

Texas Madrone berries

Madrones!  Why do I think they are the most beautiful trees in North America?  Very simple – what other trees are broadleaf evergreens that feature incredible exfoliating bark in several colors; white spring flowers; and spectacular red berries in fall!  In addition to all of those features, the trees often display very sculptural forms and are sometimes called “Lady’s Leg”.

 My first introduction to madrones was in the 60’s when I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, and I noticed these attractive red barked trees that somehow looked out of place within the overall monochrome dark evergreen forests of the region.  The Pacific madrone – Arbutus menziesii –is native from coastal British Columbia all the way down to southern California, with an isolated population inland within the Sierra Nevada foothills.  Usually found close to the coast within rocky areas with good drainage, they are prominent in several of the larger Seattle parks such as Lincoln where they cover several hillsides.  Further north, madrones are more common within the San Juan islands where they provide spectacular features along the shorelines. 

Pacific madrone

Pacific madrone

 There are about 14 species of Arbutus that are primarily to be found in the Mediterranean, southwestern Asia, and Mexico.  Arbutus canariensis as implied by its name is native only to the Canary Islands.  They are notoriously difficult to propagate and grow; they are very slow growers and do not like to be disturbed even when very young.  For that reason, our two native madrones are virtually impossible to find in the nursery trade.  There are several Mediterranean species such as Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) and Arbutus andrachne (Greek Strawberry Tree) as well as some hybrids such as “Marina” that are a bit more readily available on the west coast where they are hardy.  The Strawberry tree – more of a large shrub -  is widely planted in the Seattle area, often along bike trails as a screen and provides an attractive year round addition to landscapes.

 Other than the extremely attractive evergreen foliage, the peeling bark of the madrones is one of the most interesting features.  The trees go through an annual cycle of creating a layer of reddish bark that peels off in layers, exposing a cream to color below the red; a spectacular two tone that lasts until the entire trunk reveals a smooth light color that lasts through the winter. The clusters of white lantern shape flowers in spring are followed in fall with rather spectacular clusters of red berries providing an even higher level of visual interest.

Arbutus xalapensis

Arbutus xalapensis

 Moving to New Mexico in 1976, I was somewhat surprised and delighted – to learn that out of the three species of madrone native to the U.S., two of the three were indigenous to New Mexico!  Arizona madrone (Arbutus arizonica) only occurs in the far southwest corner of New Mexico in the Animas and Peloncillo mountains as well as in the Chiracahuas in Arizona. The Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis) is only to be found in the far southeast part of New Mexico in the Guadalupes northwest of Carlsbad, with a greater concentration in Guadalupe National Park in Texas.  The name “Texas” madrone is a bit ethnocentric given the fact that the overwhelming majority of the habitat where the tree is native is to be found in Mexico all the way south to Guatemala!  The largest Texas madrone in the country is located in the Lincoln National Forest northwest of Carlsbad.  It reportedly had a 14 foot trunk circumference; but in speaking with a district ranger on the phone, it appears that a recent forest fire may have killed the tree.  The most convenient way to see a great number of  Texas  madrones is by hiking McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe National Park where the size, variety of forms, and colors are amazing; there are huge single trunk specimens along with dozens of multi-trunk trees.  In fall – at just the right time – madrones are resplendent with clusters of bright orange-red berries, and the Canyon maples (Acer grandidentatum ) are also at their peak of red color.  The wood of madrone trees is extremely dense and was used for tools, stirrups, handles and the like and today is used to carve beautiful trays, bowls, and spoons by Mexican Indians living in areas where the tree grows.  The gift shop at El Rancho de las Golondrinas in La Cienega usually has a beautiful assortment of these madrone bowls of various sizes for sale when the facility is open.

Arbutus arizonica

Arbutus arizonica

 The Arizona madrone is a bit more difficult to find, but a trip across the bootheel border to Arizona into the Chiricahuas provides a habitat along Cave Creek full of Arizona sycamores, Arizona madrones, several evergreen oaks, huge manzanitas and a host of other interesting natives.

 I was privileged to be able to offer a presentation at the 1986 annual meeting of the AABGA  (American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta – now the American Public Gardens Association) on the “Madrones of North America” where I highlighted the fact that New Mexico was the only state with two of the three native species in the country! 

Craig's madrone in Santa Fe

Craig's madrone in Santa Fe

 In the early 90’s, my former firm (Campbell Okuma Perkins Associates) designed the Rio Grand Botanic Garden, and I was researching availability of Chihuahuan Desert and other native plants to use in the area adjacent to the conservatory.  And, of course, madrones were at the top of my list!  Luckily, there was one grower – Harris Nursery in Tatum – that was growing them, and several were installed in the area north of the conservatory and are still doing well.  At this point, I do not today know of a single regional grower of Texas madrones, as they are notoriously difficult to propagate.  They do not like to be disturbed, with just a few very sensitive root hairs, and are very slow growers. 

I have what I believe is the highest elevation Texas madrone in the country at my house that was planted over 20 years ago. With the exception of a small one at the Denver Botanic Garden, I think mine is also the one that is growing the furthest north!  Even in the February 2011 extreme freeze, there was no significant damage to my tree after our minus 14 degrees.  It is now around 12 to 15  feet high and wide and represents the one plant in my ‘collection’ that I treasure above all others.  I was unable to find a single grower at this point that offers our native madrones for sale except for Cistus Nursery in Portland that has both Arizona and Texas madrones available - but only in small 3” to 4” pot sizes.  At this point, the madrones remain a ‘collectors’ plant that is both difficult to propagate and slow to grow – but is worth the effort if one can locate a source, possibly one somewhere in the Southwest that I am unaware of.

 Unfortunately, both the Texas madrones in the hill country of Texas and the Pacific madrones in parts of the Pacific Northwest are suffering to varying degrees from a fungus and canker problem that has killed some trees, so one would hope that these incredible trees survive overall and proliferate in their native habitats.  It is unfortunate that our native madrones are not available from nurseries to at least allow patient growers to enjoy these beautiful trees as they slowly develop in their landscapes.

Madrone branch

Madrone branch


ASLA Joins World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM)

 The American Society of Landscape Architects, in informal collaboration with the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), is excited to unveil World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), in April 2015.  Formerly National Landscape Architecture Month, WLAM celebrates landscape architecture by reaching out within their communities while, this year, also connecting each of ASLA’s 49 chapters to a different member organizations of IFLA to spread the profession across the globe.

 The New Mexico chapter is excited to be paired with the Czech Republic.

 Anyone can join the celebration by requesting a wallet-sized card that reads, ”Designed by a Landscape Architect” to use in pictures at landscape-architect-designed spaces to share on social media.  Anyone can then submit these pictures to view alongside all ASLA chapters and their sister organizations images on a global, sharable map.

 To join the celebration, visit WLAM’s Facebook page or for more information please visit its webpage.”


Call for Presentations

First-ever planning and engineering joint conference in New Mexico.  APA-NM and ASCE-NM are seeking presentation submittals consistent with the conference theme "Building Alliances for a Livable New Mexico".  Submissions are due June 30, 2015.  Conference is September 23-25, 2015, in Las Cruces.  More info here.


online Continuing Education opportunity for Landscape Architects and Arborists.

See: http://www.gibneyce.com/index.html

Thanks to Bryan Suhr for sharing this excellent resource!


Pop Up Playground 2015!

NMASLA and ACE Leadership are collaborating to bring a Pop Up Playground to the Sawmill District in Fall of 2015 - giving Design Professionals an opportunity to work with High School Students on a project that educates about the meaningfulness of maintaining open spaces, the benefits of community building and the value of play in the development of creativity while giving children in an underserved area of Albuquerque a different opportunity to play.  Click here for more info and check back this summer for more details.


Project Desert Canopy - A multi-state project funded by the USDA Forest Service to conduct urban forestry ecosystem services assessments in partnering communities.  View the webpage here: https://sustainablecities.asu.edu/project-desert-canopy-air-quality-southwest-forests/

An interesting article about the socio-economic benefits of trees and urban greenery here: http://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_ActiveLiving.html