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A TREEmendous Waste
by K.C. Fletcher and Thomas Ray Garcia
published October 2017

This fast growing Tepehuaje was over 40 feet tall, spontaneously growing from a seed 10-15 years ago.
A pair of resident hawks perched on former, native tree habitat, now a pile of wasted woodland.

The most recent destruction of City of Pharr's green infrastructure at the right of way contiguous to and just east of IDEA Pharr's subdivision needs to cease.

The native trees in this particular Tamaulipan Thornforest have been ideal for the abutting school to continue planting seeds of stewardship over our woody plants and endowing an appreciation of nature in students. After eons of surviving our drought prone, windswept, and periodically flooded Rio Grande Delta biome, these trees require immediate awareness and care.

These trees also provide habitat for 540 species of birds and support pollinators, such as bees, so crucial to our local agriculture. Combined with the staggering number of species of butterflies passing through the Rio Grande Valley, a sum of about $500 million is spent providing at least 7000 local jobs catering to the international, national, and local bird and butterfly ecotourism industry.

Local sales tax of $2,560,300 and $7,512,900 of hotel taxes were generated valley-wide in 2011. This established ecotourism industry is not a pie-in-thesky, fly by night hope or wish, and we need to increase our Tamaulipan Thorn Pharrest of the future, not needlessly destroy it today to get a bigger piece of the pie, native tree destroyer, guy.

It is still true that money does not grow on trees, but millions of dollars can and do come from the native trees and bushes producing their beautiful flowers followed by fruiting. One native tree produces many berries and bugs which attract many birds, bees, and butterflies that result in more ecotourist dollars. It's a simple economic formula for success.

To the uninformed who still may call these critical refuge and food providers so-called "trash trees," there is good old saying, slightly modified: "One man's trash is another man's treasure and a direct contributor to the future Pharr General Fund treasury."

A native municipal tree automatically saves water; for every dollar spent on growing, planting, and maintaining, this municipal green infrastructure returns $3 to $5 in services back to the tax payer. We shall have it made in the shade, but first the shade has to be made. What a "releaf" that would be.

Each mature, native tree gives us merciful shade for our human comfort, community pride, a sense of place, and, most importantly, a home for wildlife. Let's get growing on this critical need for our trees. Less than 5% of the Valley-wide native thornforest remains intact. Remember: A green area within walking distance can add an average of $1,000.00 to the resale value of nearby residences.

To quote the ancient Chinese proverb, "The very best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago."

The next best time is today!

If dissatisfied with this vital wildlife habitat destruction, please send an email to mayor@pharr-tx.gov to express your opinion.