Produced by Sorrell Fowler


"To serenade your lady, just find a tree that's shady and when you hear that tick, a tick, tick… happy little woodpecker song…."

Most people take their neighborhood trees for granted, but for Norma Hamlin they inspire song…
It's no wonder that a person with such a deep-rooted appreciation for these natural resources would live in "the city of trees". Like most of the Central Valley, the Sacramento landscape was once covered with nothing but grasslands, oak, and riparian forests but now you're more likely to find a man-made, urban forest.

According to Greg McPherson, "The settlers moved into the central valley and they started small communities and right away they realized how hot it was in the summer and they began planting trees to protect themselves from the heat and to make it a little more comfortable."

But research shows trees offer plenty more benefits than just protection from the sizzling valley heat. Trees have been known to reduce crime, create better social conditions,and increase property value.
Along with increasing property value, large shade trees can lower cooling costs, and act as giant vacuum cleaners, sucking pollutants out of the air- lowering ozone and smog levels. Of course along with the numerous benefits of having a large canopy of trees there are a number of downsides, like costly maintenance and dwindling municipal funds.

With a city of trees, it is difficult to provide the '"manpower" in maintaining their beauty. City crews are currently tending to trees on a reactive basis- pruning when trouble is spotted, but according to Dan the city has moved towards a more efficient proactive program, trimming on a regular schedule in some areas. And in a city where trees are considered its crowning jewel, the Sacramento tree foundation is trying to make sure the legacy doesn't die.

People like Ray Thretaway, the Executive Director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, are encouraging the community to plant and protect trees so that future generations can enjoy.

And a community in the Arden park area of the city is answering that call with a grassroots effort to save the shady streets in a neighborhood of mostly diseased Modesto ash trees. Working to fill in the holes in residents are collaborating with the Sacramento tree foundation, digging in and convincing their neighbors to let them replant with large shade trees.

Development is another threat to our urban greenery but not if people like Norma Hamlin can help it. Over 30 acres of oaks in the Orangevale area is now a state park, safe from development thanks to Norma's persistence. She spent years documenting the area, getting petitions signed and pestering politicians to protect the land. And it all started with a homely tree across the street from her house.

Community members are branching out to help maintain and save their neighborhood canopies, but computer programs may also help in the near future.
Researchers at the Center for urban forest research center at UC Davis are developing software that allows you to instantly watch trees grow and track the costs and benefits. A tool that could help cities and individual residents make wiser choices when choosing trees, helping to make sure our urban forests are around for future generations to enjoy.


Steve Bash
Biodiesel Enthusiest

Bill Jones
Rancher, Former CA Secretary of State

John Deiner

Neil Koehler
Director of CA Renewable Fuel Partnership


The complete text of New Valley Episode 203 - The Green Machine...


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