Trees Return to the Freeway

November 8, 2020

Trees Return to the Freeway

After years of tree removals from I-780 by Caltrans, a group of 17 volunteers planted 22 trees at the interior loop of the Military West westbound off-ramp on November 7th.  Volunteers included Benicia youth, such as members of the Benicia High School Key Club and Boy Scout Troop 007, working and retired Benicians, and a resident of American Canyon.

This project was made possible by Sindy Harris and Steven Morgan of In Honor of Mother Earth, a grassroots organization in Benicia that picks up litter on I-780 through the Caltrans Adopt A Highway program (Steven is also on the BTF Board of Directors).  In Honor of Mother Earth obtained a permit from Caltrans to plant the trees last month.  The project was funded by Sindy Harris, and Benicia Tree Foundation helped develop the project and organized the volunteers.

A smaller group of volunteers, which included Benicia Councilmembers Tom Campbell and Lionel Largaespada, prepared the site on Thursday by digging holes for the 22 trees. 

On Saturday morning, a larger group of volunteers arrived at the Benicia High School parking lot to receive a safety briefing, safety vests and to organize carpools and shuttles to the off-ramp.  The Caltrans permit only allows vehicle access from the westbound off-ramp which has limited room for parking.

The volunteers were greeted by eight Coast live oak, nine Blue oak and five California buckeye trees in five-gallon containers waiting to be planted.  BTF Board member Steven Goetz explained why the trees were appropriate for this project and demonstrated how to plant a tree.  Tools were provided along with supplies to sanitize the tool handles.

Over the course of the next two and a-half hours, the volunteers planted, mulched, watered and staked the trees.  After some snacks and water, the volunteers carpooled home or were shuttled back to the high school parking lot by noon.

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On Thursday, volunteers (left to right) Steven Goetz, Steven Morgan, Lionel Largaespada and Tom Campbell (he's taking this picture) got the site ready for tree planting on Saturday.

 

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On Friday, the nursery delivered the trees to Sindy Harris's house.  Sindy paid for the trees.

 

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Steven Morgan gives a safety briefing to the volunteers at the Benicia High School parking lot, before carpooling to the off-ramp.

 

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Volunteers are planting a Blue oak at the off-ramp.

 

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Volunteers stake a Coast live oak tree that they just planted.

 

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Mulch is taken from the mulch pile to spread around the new trees.

 

Military West project

Volunteer fills water jugs from a water tank trucked to the site.

 

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Malik and May water a newly planted and mulched Coast live oak.

 

 

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Group photo (socially distanced) of the volunteers for the Military West off-ramp project.