Residents fear trees will be rejected

By Brandon Darnell

Sacramento, CA (July 23, 2010)- Some Midtown residents are concerned that Sacramento’s urban forest will get the ax from budget cuts. Midtown resident Karen Jacques raised the issue at Monday night’s Area 1 Neighborhood Advisory Group meeting by filing a request for a response from the city of Sacramento on the possible laying off of Sacramento’s experienced tree maintenance staff.

Jacques said she has heard that maintenance staff is at risk of being laid off, and she said she fears the loss that will represent to the upkeep of the numerous trees in the city. “This issue is at least grid-wide, and it may be Central City-wide,” Jacques said. “What I’m asking of urban forest staff is that they look at their budget priorities.”

“We have to take a look at all of our services to close the budget gap,” said Linda Tucker, spokeswoman for the Sacramento Department of Transportation. “One of the areas…is going to be Urban Forestry. “Tucker said she could not go into specific positions facing cuts, but said there will still be people with arborist-level experience on staff. Layoff notices were mailed Wednesday, and they are scheduled to take effect Aug. 6. Tucker could not elaborate on which positions would be cut. The level of service, she added, will decline.

“What people will lose will be the ability for the city to…plant new trees other than the ones we replace,” Tucker said. The cuts will also lead to long-term maintenance costs as some trees might not be properly watered, damaging them in the long run, Tucker added. She added that positive measures have been taken, including pruning entire blocks at a time instead of responding to calls for single trees needing pruning.

Resident George Raya added to Jacques’ request Monday night, asking for a review of the books for the landscape and lighting funds. “I’d like to find out how much of our tax is actually going to tree services,” Raya said. “We taxed ourselves specifically for this reason.” Jacques said she is concerned that without the more experienced staff on-hand, newly planted trees will die and old ones will not get the attention they need. “In some areas, it isn’t going to be pretty, but these are some tough times,” Tucker said.

Related Resource:
Sacramento Press- Residents fear trees will be rejected