The Benicia Tree Foundation plants more trees on the freeway as a tribute to Earth Day.
On two Saturdays in April, eleven volunteers planted 21 native trees on the Columbus Parkway eastbound offramp to I-780, opposite the entrance to the Benicia State Recreation Area. Earth Day is not the best time of year to plant native trees, but we found ourselves in a circumstance where we had possession of the trees and thought it best to get them in the ground rather than care for them in their containers until next fall/winter, which is a better time to plant trees in California.
This project is the Foundation’s second project under the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway program. Caltrans provides a five-year agreement to anyone willing to plant and maintain trees on Caltrans right-of-way, subject to their review and approval of the location and the trees to be planted.
The Foundation collaborated with the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society (the Willis Linn Jepson Chapter) to select the trees that were planted and to recruit volunteers. Through this collaboration we will also explore methods to control invasive plants growing in the right-of-way and to introduce native grass species. Another potential task is to secure help to remove several dead trees found inside the loop off-ramp. Its surprising Caltrans missed these dead trees given their aggressive efforts to remove trees from their right of way during the past several years to reduce wildfire hazard.
The more immediate need will be to recruit volunteers to help water the trees during the dry season, so consider devoting the second Saturday of each month, from 9am to Noon, to help water these newly planted trees.