KATY KORKOS Monitor Reporter
Commuters on East Jemez Road between N.M. 4 and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have noticed dead and dying trees and shrubs directly adjacent to the road for several weeks now. LANL owns the land on either side of the road in the affected area.
LANL spokesman Steven Sandoval stated Thursday that LANL's contractor for road maintenance, KSL Services, was investigating the problem of dying shrubs and trees along LANL maintained roads.
"KSL Services employee Dan Humbles is aware of the dying or dead brush, juniper and shrubs along both sides of the truck route, from N.M. 4 west to about LANSCE," Sandoval said in the laboratory statement. He said he is also aware of other reports of dying/dead shrubs etc. in isolated areas around Technical Area 3 and University House, a facility also at TA-3.
Sandoval said KSL has provided cuttings from the plants to Carlos Valdez, the county's extension agent, who sent the cuttings to New Mexico State University to be analyzed. Tests should be able to ascertain whether the plants died because of an insect infestation, drought, problems with the soil or some other cause.
NMSU, located in Las Cruces, maintains a "Plant Diagnostic Clinic" as part of its Extension Plant Sciences Department within the College of Agriculture, which "is designed to provide plant diagnostic services for the state of New Mexico," according to the extension services website.
"The Plant Diagnostic Clinic works very closely with the New Mexico Cooperative Extension county offices. Our services include analysis of plant material for plant pathogens and environmental stresses," the website states.
"It generally takes about a week to get results back," Valdez said, "unless they have to do a culture for pathogens."