The Benicia Tree Foundation (BTF) has partnered with the Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) to garner grants from California ReLeaf to plant 80 trees at Benicia High School (planted in 2011) and another 80 trees (to be planted this year) at Joe Henderson Elementary School. The partnership is built upon volunteer support consisting of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. Two events are planned this month in support of these efforts:
1. Tree Maintenance at Benicia High School: Saturday, January 14, 2012 from 9am to Noon. Benicia High School is located at 1101 Military West, Benicia, CA 94510. The tree planting site is at the base of the athletic fields near the corner of Military West and Denfield Avenue. The activity will mostly focus on maintaining the 80 trees already planted, but will also include one additional tree planting.
2. Tree Planting at Joe Henderson Elementary School: Saturday, January 28, 2012 from 9am to Noon. Joe Henderson Elementary School is located at 650 Hastings Drive. Tree Plantings will occur at the front of the school and at the perimeter of the playgrounds. The activity will focus on preparation for planting 80 trees on the perimeter of the playground, and will also include some tree planting at the front of the school.
On both campuses, the tree plantings establish windbreaks designed to protect sections of the campuses unprotected by trees. The tree plantings are designed to provide maximum educational as well as environmental benefits. The tree plantings will provide opportunities for engaging students in curriculum that involves issues such as global warming and energy consumption, allowing students and teachers to take action through applied scientific learning methods. The BTF Board of Directors, comprised of Benicia residents and volunteers, is hopeful that the positive impacts of the campus tree plantings will be analyzed and replicated throughout the BUSD.
Wolfram Alderson, Executive Director of the BTF, states that “We all know that our schools are under financial distress. Funds and support for maintaining school grounds are dwindling. Unfortunately, due to age, disease, and other factors, the tree population has been declining on the school grounds throughout the BUSD. Students, teachers, and administrators desire an improved tree canopy on campuses in the school district. Many of Benicia schools are surrounded by asphalt parking, turf fields, and barren hills sparsely planted with trees. Playing fields, lacking adequate protection from the wind or shade from the sun, require excessive irrigation, and subject participants at sports events to extremes of full-sun heat to bone-chilling winds. Several of Benicia’s schools are located adjacent to the 780 freeway, and are impacted by the exhaust from the estimated 58,000 cars per day that pass through the center of Benicia. Further diminishing the air quality, Benicia also happens to be centered in a triad of three of California’s largest refineries. Benicia has the fourth highest ozone rate in Bay Area.”
The tree planting locations will be mulched, providing an ecological solution for improving the soil that minimizes irrigation needs and reduces erosion. Alderson states that “Trees filter pollutants, nutrients, sediments, and pesticides while absorbing water runoff,” citing U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Urban Forest research that indicates a medium-sized tree can intercept 2,380 gallons of rain per year. Alderson notes that both planting sites are located at the perimeter of large athletic fields where runoff from rain is currently directed mostly toward storm drains. “In addition to improving storm water retention and soil erosion conditions, the new grove of trees will also provide additional shade, lower temperatures on the school grounds, provide an additional windbreak, and improve air quality. Planting trees on school sites adjacent to high-traffic corridors helps to reduce the impact of pollution on students and teachers. Trees, when planted in sufficient quantities, also have the ability to mitigate roadway noise and improve the visual aesthetics school campuses,”
Volunteers are encouraged to come dressed ready to get dirty, and bring gloves, a hat and drinking water. The BTF encourages volunteers to bring tools and also encourages donations of shovels, rakes, hole diggers, hoes, and other garden implements. The BTF was established in 2010 and received its initial funding from the Valero Good Neighbors / VIP Settlement. No RSVP is required, but volunteers may sign up in advance for the project at http://www.beniciatrees.org/volunteer/opportunities or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. All participants will be required to sign a waiver & release of liability. Minors also require a signature of a parent or guardian.
The campus forestry initiative is part of a plan to plant 1,000 new trees in Benicia. The Benicia Tree Foundation provides opportunities for parents, students, and community volunteers to act on concerns for the environment and community health and become “Tree Keepers”. More information about becoming a Benicia Tree Keeper is available at http://www.beniciatrees.org/programs/tree-keepers.