One more tree will be added to Benicia High School’s landscape, and 80 others that were planted last year will get some maintenance Saturday, said Wolfram Alderson, executive director of the Benicia Tree Foundation.
A grant from California ReLeaf will pay for the trees at the high school as well as the 80 that will be added to the Joe Henderson Elementary School campus Jan. 28, Alderson said. Both plantings are part of an effort to add 1,000 new trees to the city.
The tree maintenance Saturday at the high school will focus on the trees that were planted last year as a wind break to protect the campus.
“We all know that our schools are under financial distress,” Alderson said. “Funds and support for maintaining school grounds are dwindling.
“Unfortunately, due to age, disease, and other factors, the tree population has been declining on the school grounds.”
The trees also were planted for educational, comfort and environmental benefits, Alderson said.
“Many of Benicia’s schools are surrounded by asphalt parking, turf fields, and barren hills sparsely planted with trees,” he said. “Playing fields, lacking adequate protection from the wind or shade from the sun, require excessive irrigation, and subject participants at sports events to extremes of full-sun heat to bone-chilling winds.”
He said the foundation expects the trees to help with air quality at the schools.
“Several of Benicia’s schools are located adjacent to the (Interstate) 780 freeway, and are impacted by the exhaust from the estimated 58,000 cars per day that pass through the center of Benicia,” he said.
In addition, the city is in the center of three of California’s largest refineries, he said.
“Benicia has the fourth-highest ozone rate in Bay Area,” Alderson said.
The trees will help with runoff, he said, and the planting sites at both schools are at the edges of large athletic fields, so their rain runoff is directed toward storm drains.
He said he expects the trees will improve storm water retention and reduce soil erosion.
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