BHS Tree Planting Project - Phase II

2011 9:00 am
2011 12:00 pm

Greetings!

Please join us for our second event being held to plant eighty trees at Benicia High School as a result of collaboration between the Benicia Unified School District, Benicia Tree Foundation, and the CA Native Plant Society. Funding provided by California Releaf and the Valero Good Neighbor Steering Committee Settlement Agreement.

The Benicia Tree Foundation (BTF) has partnered with the Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) to garner a grant from California ReLeaf to plant 80 trees at Benicia High School (BHS). The project will be implemented in three phases, with the second volunteer based event taking place on Saturday, March 26, 2011, from 9am to noon. The planting will be carried out at the corner of Military West and Denfield Avenue, at the base of the BHS athletic fields. The local Willis Linn Jepson Chapter of the California Native Plant Society is also supporting the project.
 
Janice Adams, BUSD Superintendent, remarks that “The campus tree planting project involves planting 80 trees in front of the BHS athletic fields, establishing a windrow that will protect one third of the campus currently 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 project will include demonstrations of urban forestry and ecology, and emphasize the impacts of sustainable landscape design.” Planting trees on school sites adjacent to high-traffic corridors helps to reduce the impact of pollution on students (referred to by researchers as “sensitive
receptors”) and teachers. Trees, when planted in sufficient quantities, also have the ability to mitigate roadway noise and improve the visual aesthetics school campuses. 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 “Unfortunately, due to age, disease, and other factors, the tree population has been dwindling on the BHS campus and throughout the BUSD. Students, teachers, and administrators desire an improved tree canopy on campuses in the school district. Like several of Benicia’s schools, the BHS campus is now surrounded by asphalt parking, turf fields, traffic corridors, and barren hills sparsely planted with trees. The athletic fields, lacking any protection from the wind or shade from the sun, require excessive irrigation, and sports events can subject participants to extremes of full-sun heat to bone-chilling winds. The planting site will be heavily mulched, providing an ecological solution for improving the soil that minimizes irrigation needs and reduces erosion. Trees filter pollutants, nutrients, sediments, and pesticides while absorbing water runoff. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Urban Forest Research indicates that a medium-sized tree can intercept 2,380 gallons of rain per year.”
 
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. Furthermore, 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.
 
Student leaders at BHS have a role on the Community Sustainability Commission of Benicia. Benicia’s Climate Action Plan is at the forefront of efforts in Solano County. Key goals in the Benicia Climate Action Plan include increasing the number of trees in the community and the use of drought tolerant landscaping. Currently, BHS trees provide shade and protection from constant winds blowing in from the Carquinez Straits. Giant Redwoods now provide an effective windrow in front of the school entrance, providing a majestic face to the campus, and large Mulberry trees are among an assortment of other tree species provide shade and a distinct sense of place in the center courtyard of the school. Students naturally gravitate to and cluster under these trees that are a beloved part of the campus landscape, according to Teresa Finn, BHS Teacher and Advisor to the BHS Eco-Club. "BHS is fortunate to be the focus of this collaboration.  Trees really do do a student body good!  I look forward to watching these trees grow to the size of the trees in the main quad, a place of grace on our busy campus,” Finn remarks.
 
Gene Doherty, President of the Willis Linn Jepson Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, comments that “non-native and invasive plants now make up the majority of the plant species we see around Benicia. We are very pleased that this project is focused on planting trees native to California. This project increases habitat havens for wildlife and is the final local activity of California’s first annual Native Plant Week which recognizes the role native plants play in sustaining biodiversity. We look forward to working with everyone to successfully complete this and other future projects.”
 
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 Neighbor Steering Committee Settlement Agreement. Volunteers can sign up in advance for the project at www.beniciatrees.org/volunteer or email wolfram@beniciatrees.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.
 
This event is the second of three events planned to implement the Benicia High School Tree Planting Project:
1. Site Clean Up and Prep / February 26, 2011: Saturday, from 9 AM to Noon (Click here to see photos from the first event!)
2. Irrigation System Installation / March 26, 2011: Saturday, from 9 AM to Noon
3. Tree Planting & Mulching / April 23, 2011: Saturday, from 9 AM to Noon
 
BHS is located at 1101 Military West, Benicia, CA 94510 / Project at corner of Military West & Denfield Avenue.