2006 National Arbor Day Awards
Frederick Law Olmsted Award
James Matz, Harlingen, TX
James Matz has worked tirelessly to provide the leadership and commitment to coordinate a binational effort to improve the natural environment on both sides of the Rio Grande near the Gulf of Mexico. His efforts have mobilized thousands of volunteers of both nationalities. He began by developing the Valley Proud Environmental Council in order to address numerous regional concerns including reforestation and community and urban forestry.
The council has worked hard to improve awareness of environmental issues and educate people on how to combat negative environmental effects. The group has printed and promoted brochures dealing with topics such as how to select the native ground cover for the area, guides for selecting cacti, shrub trees, vines and wildflowers, and how to successfully grow healthy trees in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Mexico.
Among the larger projects he has taken on, James helped establish Trees of Friendship/Árboles de Amistad in 1993. The program planned to plant two million trees by the year 2000, one tree for each person who lived in the area no matter on which side of the border they lived. While continuing with the Valley Proud council, James has gone on to serve as a City Commissioner, County Commissioner, City Councilman and Mayor.
This year's winners are: