Trees returned to the freeway in Benicia on November 7.
After years of tree removals from I-780 by Caltrans, the Benicia Tree Foundation organized a group of 17 volunteers to plant 22 trees on that day at the Military West westbound offramp. Volunteers included the Benicia High School Key Club, Boy Scout Troop 007, two city-council members, and working and retired Benicians.
This project was made possible by In Honor of Mother Earth, a grass roots organization lead by Sindy Harris and Steven Morgan that picks up litter on I-780 through the Adopt-A-Highway Program. In Honor of Mother Earth obtained a permit from Caltrans last month to plant the trees. Harris made a donation to Benicia Tree Foundation to pay for the trees.
A smaller group of volunteers, which included Benicia City Councilmembers Tom Campbell and Lionel Largaespada, prepared the site two days earlier by digging holes for the trees.
On Saturday morning, the larger group of volunteers arrived at the nearby Benicia High School parking lot to review a COVID health checklist, receive a safety briefing, safety vests and helmets, and to organize carpools to the off-ramp as required by the Caltrans permit.
At the project site the volunteers found eight Coast live oaks, nine Blue oaks, 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.
For the rest of the cool morning, the volunteers planted, mulched, watered and staked the trees. After some refreshments, the volunteers carpooled home or were shuttled back to the high school by noon.
The Benicia Tree Foundation appreciates the partnership with In Honor of Mother Earth and hopes to reach agreement with Caltrans for future tree planting projects on I-780 to help replace the hundreds of trees removed from this freeway since 2005. Click here to learn more about Caltrans’ removal of trees in Benicia.
Councilmember Tom Campbell digs a hole for the new trees.
Volunteers (l-r) Steven Goetz, Steve Morgan and Councilmember Lionel Largaespada stand in front of a pile of wood chips that will be used to mulch the new trees.
Steve Morgan, In Honor of Mother Earth organizer, leads at safety briefing for volunteers who assembled at Benicia High School to carpool to the freeway offramp.
Volunteers plant a tree
Volunteers plant a tree.
Volunteers stake a tree.
Volunteers work on the pile of wood chips.
Volunteers fill jugs to water the trees.
Volunteers celebrate the return of trees to Benicia’s freeway.