Benicians were invited to honor and celebrate Benicia’s First Heritage Tree with a community-wide photo opportunity that took place on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 9am. Participants were asked to show up at 9am (sharp) at Benicia’s First Heritage Tree which is located in Jensen Park near the intersection of W. 2nd Street and W. K Street. The entire event lasted only a few moments, but will live on in the annals of Benicia’s arboreal history. The Benicia Tree Foundation as well as invited local media were there to help capture the moment for all time.
The first Heritage Tree in Benicia is a native California Coast Live Oak (Quercus Agrifolia). The Heritage Tree was approved March 15, 2011 by the Benicia City Council. This particular oak tree has a trunk diameter of more than 3.5 feet and a canopy radius of approximately 50 feet. The oak is one of the largest and oldest oak trees in Benicia and has been a silent witness to at least one generation of Benicia's history; the tree is estimated to be between 70-100 years old. The tree met the key criteria for qualifying as a Heritage Tree.
Wolfram Alderson, Executive Director of the Benicia Tree Foundation explains “In this simple act that will only last a few minutes, we will come together as a community to make a point: trees do matter and play an important role in our history and environment. Honoring this tree and recording the moment will take no more time than posting your status on Facebook, but carry far more social meaning.”
A heritage tree may be associated with important local or regional history, people, structures, or landscapes. Almost every tree that has been around for a while has some historical significance, whether it is recognized or not. In Benicia, Heritage Trees are described in the City Tree Ordinance. The process defined in the Benicia ordinance for designating a heritage tree requires the express permission of the property owner. An application to begin the process can be found on the City of Benicia web site by clicking here. The Benicia Tree Foundation is providing online resource pages for each heritage tree that is established. Signage will be provided at the Heritage Tree sites that will include links to information about the tree on the Benicia Tree Foundation website. Photos of Benicia’s first heritage tree may be viewed by Clicking here.
Anyone may nominate a tree for heritage tree designation. As described in the Tree & Street Trees Ordinance, Section 12.24.050 of the Benicia Municipal Code, candidates for designation as heritage trees may be nominated for review and recommendation to the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission.
The City shall notify the property owner of the nomination, and then, upon the owner’s consent, the application to nominate will be processed. A City Arborist will inspect the nominated tree and produce a report that will be attached to the application and then submitted to the Parks, Recreation & Cemetery Commission for their approval and recommendation to the City Council. Upon resolution by the City Council, after holding a noticed public hearing, a tree may be designated a heritage tree if it meets at least one of the seven criteria described on the application.
Anyone seeking assistance in establishing a heritage tree in Benicia may contact the Benicia Tree Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.