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
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