Debbie Arrington

New Oaks for Land Park – along with some tender loving care

200-year-old oak saved in Land Park

Rick Stevenson of the Land Park Volunteer Corps tells how volunteers saved a beloved 200-year-old oak in the Sacramento Zoo in William Land Park in Sacramento.
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Rick Stevenson of the Land Park Volunteer Corps tells how volunteers saved a beloved 200-year-old oak in the Sacramento Zoo in William Land Park in Sacramento.

Hard hit by drought and winter storms, William Land Park soon will get some new additions to its urban forest.

On Saturday morning, volunteers will plant iconic symbols of Sacramento: camellias and oaks.

Members of the Sacramento Camellia Society will add new healthy shrubs to the park’s Camellia Grove, which suffered terribly during California’s epic drought. To keep those camellias happy, new oaks will be added to shade the grove.

Those trees will be part of a major reforestation project by the Land Park Volunteer Corps, says member Rick Stevenson.

“We will have additional tree plantings (during) many of this year’s park work days,” he said.

Always seeking helping hands, the group meets at 9 a.m. the first Saturday of every month at the picnic grounds behind Fairytale Town.

This winter, William Land Park lost more than 50 of its biggest trees. Weakened by drought and old age, most of these trees were the victim of powerful winds. With the drought finally over, this spring represents a prime opportunity to get new trees rooted in their place.

But these replacements are only the beginning of a huge job, Stevenson noted. Many of the 166-acre park’s trees are beginning to “time out.”

“The Land Park tree situation is a crisis not readily apparent,” he said. “The park was planted in the 1920s and ’30s with trees that live 80 to 100 years. We are working to get the (Sacramento) Parks Department engaged with us on a tree grove replacement plan that should see some solid progress in the fall.”

Before the drought, the park was home to an estimated 2,000 trees. In 2015, 66 trees were removed by city crews because of poor health or unsoundness. More trees were lost last year. Then came winter’s wallop.

Planting replacements is a start, but it takes many years for trees to reach the grandeur of Land Park’s beloved oaks. That’s why volunteers also have worked hard to save those trees. A recent success story towers over the Sacramento Zoo; Land Park volunteers helped nurse back to health the zoo’s 200-year-old valley oak. Those efforts earned the volunteers – and the tree – a 2016 Legacy Award from the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

Mulch mayhem

Giant oaks aren’t the only local trees that could use some TLC. Even though Sacramento received record rain this winter, the summer will still be dry.

Keep trees happy – and soil moist longer – with a blanket of mulch.

“Mulch might be one of the most underappreciated water conservation tools at our disposal,” said Amy Talbot of the Regional Water Authority, the umbrella organization that coordinates local water agency efforts. “Mulch is like icing on a cake because it keeps the soil moist the way icing keeps a cake moist.”

What would make that “icing” sweeter? Make it free! And that’s exactly what the RWA and local water providers are doing with two Mulch Mayhem days.

On Saturdays May 6 and 20, local residents can pick up free mulch. It’s limited to 1 cubic yard per person (first come, first bagged) and must be for personal, noncommercial use. Customers should bring their own shovels, containers, tarps or other items to cover the mulch and must provide their own way to haul it away, the RWA said.

The mulch will be available from 9 a.m. to noon May 6 at Antelope Gardens (7800 Antelope North Road, Antelope) and the Carmichael Water District (7837 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael).

On May 20, get mulch at the Sacramento Marina (2 Broadway, Sacramento), Placer County Fairgrounds, Lot B (800 All American City Blvd., Roseville) and the San Juan Water District (9935 Auburn Folsom Road, Granite Bay). Hours will be 9 a.m. to noon at Roseville and Granite Bay, 8 a.m. to noon in Sacramento.

For more details, click on www.BeWaterSmart.info.

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