San Jon recognized as ‘Tree City’

William Thompson

Many people from other parts of the country probably do not think of New Mexico as a haven for tree lovers, but San Jon has recently been designated a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

San Jon was one of only eight New Mexico communities to receive that designation. Bobby Gomez, a San Jon city maintenance worker who takes care of the city’s trees, said that for a town the size of San Jon it is quite an accomplishment. “We’ve got a population of 306 people,” said Gomez. “To be recognized along with cities like Clovis and Albuquerque is good for this town.”

San Jon met four requirements necessary to win the “Tree City USA” designation. San Jon spends more than two dollars per person a year on tree-related purchases. The city has a tree board and a tree care ordinance. Also the city officially observes Arbor Day each year. Rosalie Rachor, Deputy Clerk for San Jon, said San Jon spends much more than the required two dollars per person on the care of city trees. “We spent $1,600 on maintaining, purchasing and planting trees,” said Rachor. “I applied for and received money from two state grants to pay for everything required to maintain our trees.”

The Arbor Day Foundation’s web site notes that communities that receive the “Tree City USA” recognition often get preference when it comes to getting grant money for trees and their upkeep. In addition to being listed on the foundation’s web site and within the foundation’s publications as a “Tree City USA”, San Jon also can put signs at the entrances to the community stating that the city is a “Tree City USA” Maintenance worker Gomez said that San Jon will not be resting on its laurels when it comes to trees. “We want to continue planting trees in various places around town,” he said. “We want to plant some more around the Senior Citizens Center and the city park. Also we want to eventually create a pond or a small lake behind the Little League field with trees all along the back of the field.”

San Jon will be observing Arbor day a little late this year, about two weeks after Arbor Day which falls on April 30. The city will be planting eight new Austrian pines in the city park when it officially observes Arbor Day. This year is the fifth straight year the city has received the recognition from the foundation. In the past year the city has purchased 15 trees, including ash, catalpa and pine trees. Gomez said the trees are doing well except for some beetle damage to the pines.
“We get advice from nurseries when we see tree damage,” said Gomez. “We were able to limit the beetle damage this year because we found out that we had to spray the trees as soon as we saw the beetles going up and down the tree trunks.”

City Administrator Bobbye Rose indicated her pride in knowing the city’s tree situation is in good hands. “Despite the problems we’ve been having with our water, we have still kept our trees well-maintained,” she said.