The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

ENMU still providing green space


June 9, 2019

Eastern New Mexico University has always been proud to provide a green space for our community.

The trees we plant, enjoy and care for are part of our proud history of being a tree-friendly campus, with 21 unique species including a New Mexico privet, a pinyon pine and a ginkgo.

When our institution was founded in 1934, Floyd Golden worked with New Mexico State University to secure and plant 450 elm trees on ENMU’s campus, several of which still exist today.

Recently, however, we had to begin the removal of 21 Siberian elm trees near the Administration Building and Guadalupe Hall. These magnificent trees have been a part of ENMU’s campus for 83 years, providing beauty and shade for ENMU students, employees, alumni, community members and visitors.

No one loves these trees more than we do at ENMU. But when 200-plus-pound tree limbs began cracking and crashing to the ground this spring, our Physical Plant staff noted that the limbs were hollowed out and rotten to the core.

One such limb fell on a student’s car, causing thousands of dollars of damage. Had it fallen on the student, it would have been devastating.

We employed Cut it Right Tree Service & Landscaping to examine the campus Siberian elms. The company provided video evidence (since posted to YouTube) showing many elms were up to 90 percent rotted and decayed. These elms have exceeded their life expectancy by more than 20 years and were clearly a danger to people and property.

In addition, Portales City Manager Sammy Standefer confirmed to one of our regents that, “We have reports from Certified Arborists and have participated in a study with the NM State Forestry Division creating and inventory and evaluations of our Siberian Elms … most of the Siberian Elm trees in our community are needing to be replaced, and can be a safety concern. The elms have held up well but the information as I understand it, most of them were planted in the 1930s…”

For the safety of our campus community and visitors, we made the decision to remove 21 trees to mitigate potential safety issues. There will be videos and pictures posted on the university’s website showing the condition of the trees that we have been forced to take down.

Five years ago, when boughs from our majestic Siberian elms first began to break off during wind storms, we planted a row of pistachio trees just inside the row of elms in front of Administration. Pistachio trees are a native desert tree well-suited to long, hot summers and moderately cold winters. Pistachio trees have been known to live several hundred years and grow to a height of 33 feet.

In a very few years’ time, these Pistachio trees will grow in stature and grace the entry to campus, welcoming students, faculty, staff, community and visitors.

For 85 years, Eastern New Mexico University has worked to make its students, faculty, staff, alums and community proud. That’s still our goal as we begin our next 85 years together.

Jeff Elwell is chancellor of Eastern New Mexico University. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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