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Tree Recommendations for the Park Master Plan Update

The Benicia Tree Foundation Board of Directors has prepared recommendations for tree projects to include in the update of the Parks, Trails & Open Space Master Plan.  The City of Benicia began the update process last year by organizing focus groups of community stakeholders to get their ideas for opportunities to improve the park system.  BTF is a voice for trees in the community and was included in the focus groups.  A description of our comments at that time can be found here.   Now, the Board has prepared more specific recommendations based on the information presented at the April 20th community workshop on the Master Plan Update, which included information from the Existing Conditions Mapping and Site Assessments Report, and the findings from the survey of 448 randomly-selected households in Benicia.

The information provided at the community workshop included the following:

  • The city owns over 1,800 acres of open space within the city limits which are unimproved but provide opportunities to enhance and connect existing parks;
  • Some parks have barren areas where planting has died, or have improper or insufficient trees;
  • When households were asked to select the four most important park facilities, the four most popular choices were paved trails, unpaved trails, restrooms, and trees/landscaping.
  • When considering 35 different recreational facilities and amenities that were evaluated by the household survey, the top eight priorities for investment in future facilities/amenities included paved trails, unpaved trails, shade structures, publicly accessible open space with trails/benches, and trees/landscaping.

The Board’s recommendations for tree projects to include in the Master Plan Update are as follows:

  • More trees along trails in city-owned open space.
  • More trees in city-owned open spaces adjacent to roads. Trees planted in these open spaces can provide multiple benefits such as capturing and cleaning stormwater runoff, providing wildlife habitat, cleaning our air, sequestering carbon, and reducing ambient air temperature during hot days.
  • More trees in parks. Tree planting can be used to address a number of adverse conditions that have been identified in our parks such as barren areas of dirt, unnecessary areas of grass, insufficient or improper trees, and the desire for more shade structures.

In addition to planting more trees in our parks and open spaces, the Board requested that the Master Plan Update consider the following policy issues:

  • Require timely replacement of any tree removed from a park or open space and that the replacement tree be in the vicinity of the removed tree;
  • Establish a native tree planting program for open space to provide shade for users and habitat for wildlife while protecting views; and
  • Work with public interest groups to plant and maintain trees in parks and open spaces.

Click here to see a copy of the Board’s comment letter. 

Up to this point, the process for updating the Master Plan has been entirely virtual.  City staff has suggested the possibility of an in-person workshop sometime this summer.  To be notified of future public meetings for the Master Plan Update, provide them your contact information thru the project’s website