East Palo Alto Tree Initiative Gains National Focus

Sponsored by The Home Depot Foundation
Palo Alto, Calif. (October 16, 2007)- Canopy, in conjunction with the City of East Palo Alto, created the East Palo Alto Tree Initiative in 2006. The goal of this initiative is to revitalize neglected areas in East Palo Alto, create significant numbers of community stewards in the process, and provide employment opportunities to at-risk community youth. This cooperative initiative splits racial barriers by joining diverse parties to care for the health and livability of their community.

To date, the initiative has been a great success. Already, 900 trees have been planted along a two-mile stretch of freeway-adjacent frontage road soundwalls. This NeighborWoods investment will plant an additional 76 trees this fall and 54 this spring. These areas were formerly filled with weeds and trash and have been transformed through the plantings. Canopy led the effort to clean up the areas, install irrigation systems, and plant the trees.
In addition to the planting success, an East Palo Alto Tree Task force has been formed to become the tree advocacy voice in the community. Numerous community volunteer events have been held, and an innovative youth employment program has been created to provide part-time jobs to at-risk community youth. The City is currently without an urban forestry program due to other pressing financial and social challenges, but recognizes the need for and the benefits from such a program. Canopy, through ten years of urban forestry advocacy experience in Palo Alto has been working with the City in this regard.
The City of East Palo Alto has identified 16 public areas that they feel are priority areas for planting trees. These sites include community parks, street planting strips, open space areas, biking and walking trails, undeveloped areas that will become small parks, around schools, and in areas that are to be redeveloped.
These sites are all highly visible locations within the City and will benefit from significantly improved landscaping. Collectively, these areas could accommodate in excess of 1,000 trees.
One of those priority areas is Bell Street Park, which is targeted to receive 34 trees on October 18th and 20th. Trees at Bell Street Park will provide shade for walkways, playing areas, and picnic sites.
“Having local organizations like Canopy participate in National NeighborWoods Month helps us show the cumulative effect of a burgeoning urban and community forestry movement,” said ACT Executive Director Alice Ewen Walker. Founded in 1993, the Alliance for Community Trees is a national coalition of 140 nonprofit organizations engaged in urban and community forestry in 39 states and Canada. Its members are dedicated to grassroots community greening, public education, policymaking, job training, urban design, and other initiatives that support better awareness of the connections between trees and people.
NeighborWoods Month is sponsored through a generous grant from The Home Depot Foundation. “National NeighborWoods Month offers a unique opportunity for people to understand the contributions of trees to the health, beauty and livability of their communities,” said Kelly Caffarelli, Vice President of The Home Depot Foundation. “By partnering with ACT and local NeighborWoods organizations like Canopy, The Foundation is able to further its goals of investing in the overall health and success of our communities.”
More information at: http://calendar.neighborwoodsmonth.org or www.canopy.org
For Immediate Release Contact:
Catherine Martineau
Download Canopy’s NeighborWoods Month press release.