Editorial: In 30 days, can region pledge to plant 30,000 trees?

Published: Sunday, Mar. 4, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6E
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 4, 2012 - 1:48 pm

Sacramento's tree canopy is famous throughout the world, but as arborists, we can't rest on our laurels. (Sorry for the pun.)

This region is poised to grow enormously in the decades ahead. The trees we plant now will make this region cleaner, greener and cooler for generations to come.

Wednesday is Arbor Day. To commemorate its 30th anniversary, the Sacramento Tree Foundation is teaming up with Greenwise Joint Venture on a campaign to get pledges to plant 30,000 trees in a mere 30 days. Individuals, business, schools, nonprofits and church groups can all participate. They can commit to planting and nurturing the next graduating class of our urban forest.

They can also identify properties – public and private – that would benefit from more shade.

"We have the trees, education and expertise," says Ray Tretheway, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation. "What we need are community partnerships to get the trees in the places they need to be."

Pledges for 30,000 trees in a month is an ambitious goal. But the benefits will make it worth the effort. According to the Tree Foundation, 30,000 trees would absorb 8.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide over their first 20 years of growth. Their shade can save 1.6 billion Btu (British thermal units) of energy during that same time.

And as we all know, many of Sacramento's trees – kissed by the sun and rooted in rich soils – can easily live for 80 years or more.

Sadly, the recession and downturn in the housing market have slowed progress on the Tree Foundation's long-term goal of 5 million new trees regionwide. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has done important work with it shade tree program. Yet cities and counties have cut back on arborists and tree planting programs, and developers – no longer growing houses – are no longer planting trees.

That's why volunteers are needed.

The timing couldn't be better. Not only is Wednesday Arbor Day, but Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" is undergoing a revival with the release of an animated film.

As you might recall, the Dr. Seuss story involves the efforts of the Lorax to prevent a wealthy industrialist, the Once-Ler, from exhausting the supply of Truffula trees. One of his famous lines: "Yes, I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please."

These days in Sacramento, the challenge is less about stopping chain saws than planting new ones to replenish and grow the canopy.

We should remember our ancestors as we dig in the dirt.

Early neighborhoods such as midtown and Curtis Park were largely barren of trees. The canopy that enhances such neighborhoods was the work of civic-minded Sacramentans who had a generational commitment to the city.

The Tree Foundation is now looking for a new generation to take up that baton, and spread the benefits of trees to every neighborhood in Sacramento.

The Bee's past stands:

"The streets can be paved, the car tracks can be laid, the sidewalks constructed and those majestic oaks not be sacrificed. Municipal improvement does not necessarily mean the butchery of the beautiful. In fact, there can be no real municipal improvement without beauty."

– Nov. 7, 1913

What you can do

Visit the Sacramento Tree Foundation's site and pledge at www.sactree.com or call (916) 924-8733.

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