Weed's 20 years as a Tree City

Steve Gerace
Weed Elementary School students participate in the planting of a red maple tree last week.

Botanist, native nursery owner and author Robert Menzies couldn’t resist.

During a tree planting Friday morning at Weed Elementary School to honor the City of Weed’s 20th year as a Tree City USA, one of the fourth grade students who participated spotted a worm in the soil at the base of the newly planted eight-year old red maple.

Menzies picked it up, and the students started chanting, “Eat it, eat it, eat it.”

You wouldn’t be far off if you described Menzies as part Euell Gibbons and part Robin Williams. He initially shook off the students’ suggestion, but his naturalist and comedic instincts grabbed hold: he put the worm in his mouth and began to chew – or so it appeared.

To the delight of students, teachers, Menzies’ son Dillon and wife Mary, and representatives from the city of Weed, he then buried the worm back in the soil to help nourish the tree.

Menzies thanked all of those involved in the 20th annual celebration of Weed as a Tree City USA, and he specifically thanked police chief Martin Nicholas, city clerk Deborah Salvestrin, finance director Kelly

McKinnis, and public works director Craig Sharp, who have been part of the Tree City team from the start.

On national Arbor Day 2014, Menzies said several hundred trees have been planted in the city over the past 20 years – at city hall, centennial plaza, Cougar Park and other locations.

He mentioned the four criteria required for Tree City USA recognition: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per person, and an Arbor Day observance or proclamation.

When one of the fourth grade students mentioned that his family didn’t have a single tree in their yard, Menzies offered to give him one to plant.

He told the students that his son, Dillon, who recently returned to the area to help at Menzies Natives Nursery, graduated from WES 17 years ago.

Menzies said he previously worked with Chris Schneider and Jack Moore to have the city of Mount Shasta recognized as a Tree City USA, and he’s now working with the city of Yreka on a plan that would to have Siskiyou County designated a Tree County.

His efforts have put the north state on the Tree City USA map, but that’s probably not what this year’s WES fourth grade students will remember most about him.