Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The City of Trees

Sacramento, CA

If you ever want to feel the difference trees can make on a hot day, visit Sacramento.

In the summer, temperatures break the triple digits. Even now, in April, the temperature hovered around ninety in the sun. But it was a perfect day in the shade.

Sacramento sits at the end of the great bowl that is California’s Central Valley. This means that all of the pollution, pollen, particulates, and other P-words from Sacramento stick in the air, and are fed by San Francisco from one direction, and the Central Valley farms from the other.

It wouldn’t seem like the best place to go for a walk to get a breath of fresh air.

Except for the trees. Downtown Sacramento is an Urban Forest. Most blocks have trees planted every five yards; trees which are anywhere from five to a hundred years old. In fact, Sacramento claims to have more trees per capita than any other city in the world.

You can feel the temperature difference – ten to twenty degrees – from a block without many trees (they're rare, but do exist around construction areas) to blocks with fully grown trees. The tree canopy helps to make Sacramento a walkable city. It also assists in keeping the city from existing under water, as part of Sacramento's flood management program.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is now looking to expand this tree canopy, with a goal to plant five million trees over the next 40 years. Their three-part, staged plan will include working with twenty-six jurisdictions around Sacramento. The goal is to plant trees in urban areas while educating businesses and residents in the planting, care, and appreciation of trees, to help ensure the long life of the urban forest.

I can’t argue with that, but it does make the Million Trees LA initiative seem a bit lacking.

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