The citizens of Rossville experienced a huge win this morning in their continued quest to save Big Ross, the oak tree that sits at the intersection of FM 476 and 2504, when Commissioners Court unanimously voted to write a letter to the state requesting a designation to protect not only Big Ross, but any old oak tree that might be harmed by TxDOT in Atascosa County.
Just last week, TxDOT was planning to cut down Big Ross in their project to create turning lanes at the intersection. On June 14, Commissioner Stuart Knowlton, Pct. 2, placed a message on his Facebook page and the “What’s Up, Poteet?” page administered by Cleo Vargas encouraging citizens to contact the local TxDOT office and protest Big Ross’ removal. With the support Commissioner Knowlton and Rep. Ryan Guillen, the citizens’ pleas were successful as TxDOT agreed to conduct another environmental study to evaluate the historical significance of Big Ross. The tree is saved for now, but construction will continue to move forward.
“I understand that TxDOT has to do what they have to do. I just don’t think they understand how much this tree means to this community. It’s been a landmark for generations – our parents, our grandparents and so on,” said Irma Sanchez, Rossville resident, to Commissioners Court. “We’re not against progress … but we think there is a way around it so that they don’t tear this tree down.”
Several Rossville residents attested to the tree’s historical significance. For those who travel FM 2504 and FM 476 in Rossville this phrase, “Turn right at the ‘t’ by the big oak tree” is a familiar one. Although there is nothing officially designated, Big Ross is a well-known landmark – so much so that emergency care flights have marked the tree with GPS coordinates. Atascosa County Historical Commission Chairman Martin Gonzales is currently working with Rossville residents to see about designating Big Ross as a historical landmark.
County Judge Bob Hurley said the would support the citizens if they got petition started to which the citizens agreed they would begin working on. More information on how you can sign the petition will come later.
Shayleigh Uribe has started work to collect and preserve the history of Big Ross. She started a “Save Big Ross Oak Tree” Facebook page to collect all the historical information possible on Big Ross post all updates. Uribe urges people to please join that group and to post information on any Big Ross’ history you may know.