Sacramento Tree Foundation: Growing the Urban Forest
It is fitting that the Sacramento Tree Foundation was founded on Arbor Day nearly 40 years ago. On that day, the city’s leaders called for the creation of a nonprofit dedicated to trees. Since then, hundreds of thousands have been planted throughout Sacramento, thanks to the foundation and its partners, as well as countless residents and volunteers.
“Sacramento has the largest hand-planted urban forest in the entire world,” says Jacey Mayronne, the group’s volunteer engagement coordinator. “The Tree Foundation has been working to preserve and grow this legacy since 1982, so all residents can enjoy the health, economic, and environmental benefits that trees provide.”
Volunteers play an important role in keeping Sacramento known as the City of Trees. Over 2,000 of them join in tree planting events each year, assist with outreach and education, and work in office support roles. The volunteers are comprised of a diverse group of Sacramentans from every neighborhood, background, and age range, but they all enjoy making connections with others in the community.
Mayronne started out as a volunteer herself and discovered a passion for trees. “As an avid outdoor person and lover of public lands, I always knew that trees were good for the environment,” she says. “After joining the Tree Foundation I came to realize how profound of an impact they have on our quality of life. Now I’m a lifelong advocate for trees, because they bring priceless beauty, health benefits, and a sense of place. A single tree planted today takes minimal cost and effort but will outlive all of us to benefit multiple generations—I can’t think of a more impactful legacy.”
The Tree Foundation offers free shade trees to the public through its 30-year partnership with SMUD and follows up with free tree care workshops. Its educational efforts include reaching out to local schools in order to “grow the next generation” of tree lovers through the Seed to Seedling classroom curriculum.
While volunteer events are hosted nearly every weekend throughout the year, Arbor Week in early March is a special weeklong celebration of trees and a great time to get involved with tree plantings and activities that are fun for kids and grandkids. Check the Tree Foundation’s events calendar for Arbor Week 2020 event dates.
“For those who may be concerned about tree health, keep an eye out for our Save the Elms program, whose orientations begin in April,” Mayronne advises. “We train volunteers to identify and report symptoms of Dutch elm disease, a fatal disease that has already attacked thousands of our beloved, iconic elms.”
Participants of gardening clubs and community associations can schedule free presentations about shade trees and other programs. The Tree Foundation welcomes all opportunities to provide expertise, training, tools, and advice to empower the community to plant, protect, and learn about trees.
“Sacramento did not naturally have many trees,” Mayronne says. “So when you consider that nearly every tree you see today in this region was planted by an ordinary person, it becomes clear that our individual actions can do a lot of good.”
By Janet Scherr // Photos by Dante Fontana