In 2020, Benicia Tree Foundation co-sponsored its first tree planting on I-780 with the volunteer organization, In Support of Mother Earth, after many years of seeing trees removed from Benicia’s freeways by Caltrans This project was located at the Military West westbound offamp from I-780 (Exit 3B) and was made possible through the Caltrans Adopt-a-Highway Program which allows any individual, groups, companies or organizations to plant trees along most sections of Caltrans right-of-way.
The Benicia Tree Foundation recommended the use of tree species native to Benicia given their durability, their aesthetics and habitat value, and their ability to survive on rainfall alone. The 22 trees planted for this project included Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), Blue oak (Q. douglasii) and California buckeye (Aesculus californica). The trees were paid for by Sindy Harris, a Benicia resident.
Benicia Tree Foundation sought to expand tree planting on Benicia’s freeways and secured our own permit through the Adopt-a-Highway Program to plant 27 trees at the Columbus Parkway eastbound offramp from I-780 (Exit 3A). The Benicia Tree Foundation worked with the Willis Linn Jepson Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (this chapter represents members of the Society residing in Solano County), to select native trees appropriate for this location and to help recruit volunteers. 21 of these trees were planted to commemorate Earth Day 2022.
Benicia Tree Foundation has sponsored subsequent Tree Care Days to organize volunteers to help maintain these freeway trees, and proposes to plant the remaining six trees by the end of 2022. Future plans are to secure donations for a project to hire a crew from the California Conservation Corp to remove the dead pine trees and invasive plants (Jubata grass, artichoke thistle, Himalayan blackberry, Blue gum saplings) at the Columbus Parkway offramp. Benicia Tree Foundation is also working with the Willis Linn Jepson Chapter to grow native trees from local seed sources for future tree planting projects along freeways and open space in Benicia.