Express-News Weekly Column Saturday, January
13, 2001 Submitted by Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation,
SAWS, and Horticulturist
It is heartbreaking every time
one of the old trees in San Antonio is knocked down to make
way for a road or building. Sometimes it is necessary, but it
seems that if we are not careful, all of the trees will be gone
before anyone realizes it. To prevent that from happening, one
organization, San Antonio Forest, has established a heritage
tree registry. If you have a special tree because of size or
history they would like you to complete and submit an information
sheet on that tree. You can print the application from their
website at http://www.saforest.org or call Dominick Dina at
273-9082 to have one sent to you.
The advantage of having important
trees on the registry is that there will be an inventory of
the resource and a way to know how important a particular tree
is in light of what else exists in the area. It may be a way
to mobilize tree advocates to work with developers to find alternatives
to destroying a particularly special tree.
Protecting old trees is very
important, but just as important is planting new trees. San
Antonio Forest has a tree planting program and so do a number
of other organizations.
The Bexar County Master Gardeners
have always been interested in reforestation of our area. They
are one of the partners in Project Re-Leaf led by City of San
Antonio arborist Debbie Reid (207-8265). As part of the effort,
VIA is planting trees near bus stops. On the San Antonio Mission
Trails, American Forests is funding the planting of 20,000 trees
over the next few years. Juvenile Probation, AACOG, HEB, Tesoro
Petroleum, City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation, Texas Forest
Service, San Antonio Trees, and Councilperson Debra Guerrero
are other partners in the project.
Many neighborhoods, Habitat
for Humanity, garden clubs, and schools have also sponsored
tree planting programs. There are several ways you can get involved
in the tree planting effort:
· Plant trees in your own yard.
Plant high quality trees like live oak, Texas red oak, cedar
elm, Monterrey oak, Chinese pistache, desert willow, Arizona
cypress, bur oak, lacey oak, red bud, and chinkapin oak. Plant
them where they will have plenty of room for their ultimate
size and do not plant them under the utility wires. Recommended
tree lists and planting instructions are available on the internet
at plantanswers.com or call the Extension Service at 467-6575.
CPS also has a utility wire-friendly recommended tree list.
· Volunteer to help plant trees
at one of the tree plantings organized every week or two. Subscribe
to the San Antonio Gardener newsletter ($12 to SAG, 3355 Cherry
Ridge, Suite 208, San Antonio, TX 78230).
· Organize a tree planting
at your school, church or neighborhood. Free trees are available
for some projects (especially schools) through City of San Antonio
Parks & Recreation. If
you organize a tree planting make sure there is a provision
for mulch over the root system and watering for the first summer.
Survival rate increases from about 20% to over 90% if someone
is responsible for a once/month deep watering that first summer.
· Join San Antonio Forest,
San Antonio Trees, the Bexar County Master Gardeners, the Men's
Garden Club of San Antonio (men and women), or other groups
that have an active tree protection and planting agenda.
· Visit The Texas Trail tent
at the Stock Show & Rodeo in February. The Texas Forest Service
and Texas Parks & Wildlife will have tree planting information
available. AACOG and the Master Gardeners will give away 2000
small Monterrey oaks (and other species) to homeowners who commit
to plant them.
Remember, in addition to being
very attractive, trees make our area a better place to live
because they provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy bills,
clean the air, provide shade, and can reduce lawn watering needs.
Do your part and plant trees.