If you have ever taken a walk through Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus, then you have surely noticed the impressive tree canopy that covers many of our outdoor spaces. SF is home to various types of trees, some of which are more than 100 years old, and it’s many thanks to one man on campus, Associate Vice-President of Facilities, Bill Reese.
Reese joined the SF family in 1999, and has played an instrumental role in fighting for the preservation of many trees on campus. Soon after he started working at Santa Fe College, he began to do something quite remarkable. He started giving names to some of the trees on campus.
“I tend to name some of our trees that either have a unique form or are struggling in some way and need extra attention,” said Reese.
One of the first trees that he named is the “Three Sisters,” a group of three tree trunks closely intertwined in the natural basin found in front of the Administration building. The “Three Sisters” have been on campus for many years and are among the oldest trees found on SF property. Unfortunately, several years ago, one of the “sisters” was not doing well and her bark began to split. Bill called an arborist (a person who specializes in the health and safety of trees) out to the Northwest Campus to assess the situation with the dying tree. A solution was decided on and a cable that connects to all three trees was installed. The cable provides a strong support system for the dying tree, which has been kept alive by her other two “sisters.”
“I have an arborist or forester come out every three to four years,” Bill said. “They complete an extensive evaluation of all the trees on campus and determine the tree’s current state of health and whether or not the tree may potentially pose a safety risk to people walking past.”
Another unique tree which Bill has named is the “Keyhole Tree,” which can be found adjacent to the library, behind the Planetarium. The tree has a unique feature in which the trunk began to split in two while it was growing. The tree then rejoined on the top leaving a small opening in the center that resembles a keyhole.
In front of the Fine Arts Hall is a third tree that Bill has named. This one is called “Junior” and has quite an impressive story behind it. In 2011, when the Fine Arts Hall’s blueprints were being designed, Bill noticed that the plan would mean the uprooting of one of the oldest trees on campus. He suggested the plans be moved further south in order to save the tree. The architects agreed and began construction. Unfortunately, during the construction process, the tree was struck by lighting and was unable to be saved. Bill had a brand new oak tree planted in its place, which he fittingly named “Junior.”
“Santa Fe College puts a lot of time and effort into planning ways to build around and save trees that we have on campus,” Bill said, “If any trees are harmed, we make sure to plant three to four times as many replacements around campus.”
So the next time you walk through our campus, be sure to stop and visit the Three Sisters, Junior, and the Keyhole Tree. Take the time to notice the beautiful display that the spiraling branches create above the sidewalks and appreciate the history that SF College has preserved in the outdoor areas; because as the famous children’s book The Lorax states, “[We] speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues… Unless someone like [us] cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. It’s not.”