Group hopes for tree-mendous impact

By Tony Parra

Officials with the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Resources Department will be on hand at the 12th Annual New Mexico Ag Expo to try to persuade Texans and New New Mexicans to plant more trees.
“We don’t suggest buying trees unless you know what you are looking for,” Dan Ware, a public relations coordinator with the Forestry Division of the EMNRD, said. “We gear our program to wind breakers. The wind is so strong in this area. We have wind breakers to catch the wind and shift it.”
People interested in purchasing tree seedlings must take the climate into account, especially in the windy Eastern plains of New Mexico, Ware noted.
“People need to purchase trees which don’t take a lot of water,” said Joe Whitehead, a district conservationist. “There is no real native tree to the plains of eastern New Mexico. Junipers, Keteller junipers, Eastern Red Cedar, Rocky Mountain Junipers are typically grown in this area.”
Ware said the tree seedling program has sold over 120,000 tree seedlings since Nov. 26.
“We are way ahead of schedule,” Ware said. “My director says that it’s because of promotion, but a lot of it is due to the dying trees in the state because of the bark beetle. The Forestry Division projects that about 90 percent of the pinon trees in Santa Fe are going to be gone in 10 years.”
The tree and shrub species available include Afghanistan pine, Austrian pine, Arizona ash, black locust, pinon, chokecherry and service berry to name a few. Ware said there are 46 different types of species in New Mexico. Bare root seedlings are sold in bundles of 25, with a minimum order of 50 plants for $36. Containerized seedlings of one-year old plants are sold in 10-cubic-inch containers in minimum lots of 49 of the same species for $49. Styro-blocks, 30 seedlings in a block, of two-year-old plants are sold in minimum lots of $30 of the same species.
Whitehead said the Roosevelt County conservation department sells three-year-old trees.
“There is a cold wind from the north but generally the hot, dry, damaging wind comes from the Southwest,” Whitehead said. “We find that 1-gallon-sized trees have more success.”
Ware said that representatives from the EMNRD will be at a booth during the Ag Expo and they will help people pick out a tree. They will have samples, but people will need to fill out an order form to purchase the trees and they will be delivered to them in March with no delivery cost.
Ware said that public entities and municipalities can also request grants through the New Mexico Forest Re-Leaf Program. The town of Elida submitted a proposal for a $1,785 grant while Grady Municipal Schools submitted a proposal for a $2,057 grant for windbreakers. Ware said the public entities must match a percentage of the grant.
The ENMRD awarded $44,852 in grants to plant trees and shrubs in New Mexico, according to ENMRD Secretary Joanna Prukop in a press release.
Ware said the grant funding doesn’t come out of taxpayers’ money but mostly out of private donations from people and corporations.
The 12th Annual New Mexico Ag. Expo began Monday evening with a banquet for farm/city/Eastern New Mexico University/Cannon Air Force base. The guest speaker was Dr. Lowell Catlett of New Mexico State University, a futuristic agriculture economist.