If a tree falls near the Bosque, who pays for it? | KOB 4
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If a tree falls near the Bosque, who pays for it?

Nathan O'Neal
May 06, 2019 10:12 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- If a neighbor’s tree fell on someone's property and caused damage, most people would expect the neighbor to pay for it. However, an Albuquerque man says his neighbor hasn’t been very friendly – and that neighbor just happens to be a government agency.

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Chris Aragon has lived at his Albuquerque home for nearly 56 years. Two months ago, a powerful windstorm sent a massive tree tumbling onto his property – taking the fence with it.

“I paid a guy to help me repair it because... I was afraid people would start coming through,” said Aragon, who paid a few hundred dollars to repair the fence.

The tree in question was rooted on property that is owned and maintained by the Rio Grande Conservancy District.

“[The District engineer] said that they were going to fix it, don’t touch nothing… we’re going to take care of everything,” Aragon said.

However, Aragon said the Conservancy District backed off the initial promise.

An internal memo obtained by 4 Investigates sheds light on the incident. An engineer wrote that the “district cannot perform work on private property.”

Conservancy District officials said they are looking into the matter but when it comes to who’s responsible for the damage – it’s complicated.

“We try to be fair but because of the fact that we have so many trees that are aging out, we have to be circumspective to protect the district’s interest as well,” said Mike Hamman, CEO of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. 

“Often times we negotiate a settlement too if there’s a dispute. We can negotiate the settlement or we can refer them to our insurance carriers as well," Hamman said.

As for Aragon, he says the troubled tree was on Conservancy District property so they should pay the price.

“It knocked down my fence,” Aragon said. “That’s destroying property.”

Aragon says he’s worried about two other trees on the edge of his property that threaten his property and appear to be ready to fall.

The Conservancy District submitted several bids to get those other trees removed. However, the agency is having trouble finding companies that can do the work quickly.

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Nathan O'Neal

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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