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Plant Focus

Quercus peninsularis
A Red Oak (Section Lobatae) endemic to inland ranges of northern Baja California, Mexico

Pre-Conference Tour 2022: New Mexico

Event Date: 
Saturday, 27 August 2022 to Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Tour Fee

$820 (single occupancy), $655 (double occupancy). Fee includes lodging for three nights, breakfast and lunch for four days and transportation via rental vans. Please note that dinners are on your own. Number of participants: 30. To book a place on this and other Conference Tours, see the Conference website for registration details.


Tour Description

This four-day Tour will explore a number of environments. The journey will start in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we will visit a large urban forest planting including over 600 trees, many of which are oaks. Then the Tour will head to the Manzano Mountain Range in the Cibola National Forest. Quercus gambelli and other large tree genera such as maples (Acer sp.), pines (Pinus sp.), junipers (Juniperus sp.) and firs (Abies sp.), will be featured in this location. Although trees are the main focus of this Tour, there will be historical stops along the way as well. You will get a chance to check out the Salinas Pueblo Mission National Monument, constructed in 1622–1635 by Tiwa Pueblo people and Spanish Franciscans. Also, the Tour will stop at the VLA, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array. In the Plains of San Agustin at 6,970-feet (2,100 m) elevation, the array is one of the largest radio astronomy observatories in the world, comprising 28 radio telescopes, each 25 meters in diameter, mounted on a railroad track. If the region is getting its normal summer rains, the plain, a former lake bottom, should be a riot of native grasses and wildflowers providing a beautiful photo opportunity with the giant dish telescopes in the background. Following this, the tour will head back to the mountains to view a large grove of giant Q. gambelii that are growing as single-stem trees. The Tour will then hike up a canyon to reach the Catwalk on Whitewater Creek in Glenwood, New Mexico. The Catwalk can be up to 100 feet (30 m) above the creek, and on it you will encounter Q. gambelii, Q. rugosa, Q. grisea, Q. emoryi, Q. turbinella, Juglans major, and Alnus oblongifolia. The Tour will go back in time when we spend the night in Silver City, a historical downtown built in the 1800s during the gold rush days, filled with numerous restaurants and taverns. On the third day of the Tour, you will pass through a large Q. emoryi forest, on the way to see the National Champion Q. grisea in the Peloncillo Mountains of Hidalgo County, New Mexico, home to a Madrean oak woodland. Finally, on the last day, the Tour will drive over the top of Pinos Altos Mountains, where you will have the chance to check out large Q. hypoleucoides, Q. gambelii, Pinus ponderosa, and P. strobiformis. As the Tour comes to a close, you will have an opportunity to see deep canyons dropping thousands of feet to the Gila River at the bottom. Do not miss this opportunity to see a variety of environments, ecosystems, large trees of varying species, including champion oaks, geological formations, and historical sites!

Gray oak champ
Tour leader Anna Forester and the National Champion Quercus grisea (gray oak)
in the Peloncillo Mountains of Hidalgo County, New Mexico © Michael Meléndrez

Itinerary Notes

Tour participants can fly into Albuquerque International Sunport on Friday, August 26th and stay at a nearby hotel (at own expense). The airport will have a shuttle to take you to the hotel. We recommend you book your hotel at one of the four nearby hotels (Sheraton Albuquerque Airport Hotel, Best Western Airport, Hampton Inn and Suites ABQ Airport, Comfort Suites ABQ Airport) and the Tour leaders will pick you up from there. If you choose to stay elsewhere, you should make your own way to one of these hotels to join the Tour. 

The Tour will end in Las Cruces on Tuesday, August 30th, in time for participants to attend the Opening Reception of the Conference.

Gray and Emory oak
Quercus grisea and Q. emoryi at Peloncillo Mountains © Michael Meléndrez

Accessibility Note

This Tour will encounter rugged, off-trail terrain. Some Tour stops will involve short hikes to access sites of interest.

Tour Leaders

Anna Forester

Anna Forester

Anna Forester is the Production Manager and Education leader at Trees That Please Nursery in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She currently coordinates the production of trees and houseplants at the nursery. She has worked in the nursery and landscaping business for over thirty years in New Mexico. Working with Trees That Please and Michael Meléndrez since 2003, she has involved herself in all aspects of the nursery business. During this time, she has also become knowledgeable about what constitutes healthy soil, the oaks of New Mexico, collecting seed and growing trees. Anna has learned a lot the old-fashioned way, getting her hands dirty, her feet wet, and working long hot days in the sun. She believes in passing on what she has learned and maintains that sharing plant and culture knowledge is an important part of being a resource to the community. She hosts and teaches workshops at the nursery as well as some fun educational events for kids. Anna grew up amongst vegetable gardens, plants and animals in northern New Mexico along the Rio Grande River and in Santa Fe. She had about fifty houseplants of her own by the time she was twelve! She has two children, a son who is a biologist and a daughter who is studying to be an architect at the University of New Mexico, and she has been a member of the International Oak Society since 2006. Enjoying nature and inspiring others to do the same is what she lives for!

Michael Meléndrez

Michael Melendrez

A native New Mexican with a passion for the flora of the U.S. Southwest, Michael studied graduate-level botany and taxonomy at the University of New Mexico under Dr. William Martin, author of A Flora of New Mexico. He began planting a collection of oaks in 1985 and was a founding member of the International Oak Society when the group was still composed of pen pals in the 80s. He attended the first IOS Conference in 1994 where he presented a talk on the oaks of the Southwest. He has since presented several more times for the IOS including the Conferences in France and Dallas. He began studying the biology and geology of soils in the early 80s as a means of learning how to grow his nursery stock using a biomimetic process, and that study evolved into the company Soil Secrets, which now provides molecular biology products to farms across North America. Michael's tree and nursery business is called Trees That Please, which he started in 1983 with his father under the business name Meléndrez Farms. Michael has led several expeditions into the oak woodlands of New Mexico, West Texas, and Arizona for members of the IOS, including the legendary 2001 trip through the Chihuahuan Desert (see Oak News & Notes Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 5), and more recently the New Mexico Tours of 2016 and 2017.

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