Seubert knows his trees
Submitted by Jim Reed, Portland, Oregon
The City of Cottonwood will soon have the status as a Tree City USA, awarded to it by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Thanks in part to people like Fritz Seubert and John Jenny, Cottonwood’s landscape has been “growing greener” with the 500 plus evergreen trees that they planted back in the early 1980’s.
It wasn’t always like this. Until that time Cottonwood had few trees to boast about or for youngsters to play in. An aerial view of Cottonwood in the early 1960’s, displayed above the doorway at the Cottonwood Chronicle office, shows little vegetation in the way of trees.
John Jenny started planting trees in the 40’s on his property above his gas station on the south entrance to Cottonwood. After his retirement he became more active in changing the landscape above his home with more and bigger evergreen trees. He had been Idaho County’s Weed Control Commissioner during the goat weed invasion and was busy spraying for controlling weeds.
Fritz Seubert worked across the street from John Jenny’s gas station at Gem Builders supply and eventually purchased the business. He became interested in watching John on a daily basis out tending his hillside planting trees and spraying the ground to keep the weeds down so his trees could grow. John became a little frustrated in his expansion of his forest on some of the rocky hillsides above when several of the trees died. Fritz offered his help and advice and was able to convince John that where the soil was only a couple of inches in depth he needed to dig a 2 feet deep whole and fill it with good dirt. Fritz hired Darrel Beckman to help dig the holes and fill them with good dirt. The alliance of the “Johnny Apple Seeders” took off.
In the early 1980’s John and Fritz applied to the US Forest Service for trees to plant. They were told that if any trees were available after the annual planting season they would be contacted. After some time John and Fritz became concerned about getting any trees to plant so they contacted the BLM. With Lanny Wilson’s help the two were able to get 450 young 10” pine trees. Spring was in the air for 1983 and it was one of the wettest years on record. It was a good time to break out the shovels and picks. They started on the south entrance to Cottonwood above Hwy 95 and Main street -planting all the way up to the railroad tracks. They ran into a “friendly” discussion about planting trees in a straight line – John wanting all his trees lined up and Fritz favoring a natural look. They compromised with the trees being planted a “little out of alignment.”
When their planting reached the railroad tracks, another discussion broke out whether or not to plant a few trees above the railroad. John dug in his heels below the line with Fritz venturing above the line and doing a little more planting.
John and Fritz also planted the trees that you see growing on the triangle at the north entrance to town. With Fritz and John being a little fussy about their tree planting techniques and the record rainfall that year, the young pine trees thrived and grew.
For the next few years, John and Fritz also planted trees along the new Highway 95, near what used to be called Dead Man’s Curve on the way to Ferdinand. Many of the trees they planted were ones they transplanted from Cottonwood Butte. They were also early environmentalists who helped several families become involved in planting trees in and around Cottonwood. They loved Cottonwood and Idaho, and took great enjoyment in this simple, yet lasting legacy.
Fritz in his retirement is enjoying watching the trees continue to grow that were planted back in the 80’s. Fritz says that most people plant trees next to their houses, but they could also capitalize and enhance the landscape in their towns by planting trees in vacant lots and along roadways. He said he is proud that the City is looking at the trees as a big asset for the town, and, that the City of Cottonwood, has joined the National Arbor Foundation in becoming one of America’s newest Tree City USA. He would also like to acknowledge Ray and Joe Seubert, his brother JP Seubert, Steve Lamont, and many other individuals who have planted trees - not only on their property, but also along roadways and vacant lots.