City gets blueprint for more greenery

By Justin Hill
El Cerrito, CA (June 29, 2007)- El Cerrito’s Urban Forest Management Plan, which the City Council recently approved, states that the city saw a net loss of 443 trees along its streets from 1991 to 2005. The primary contributors to the death and decline of trees are insufficient water, severe pruning and not enough soil for roots to expand and be healthy, the plan says.


The city sees the plan as a tool to enable proper maintenance to keep an adequate number of its trees. Mayor Letitia Moore called the plan very exciting, and although she said the city doesn’t have the money behind it now, adopting the plan bolster’s El Cerrito’s case when applying for grants.
The City Council also recently authorized $30,000 for a tree-planting initiative, which was estimated to yield 300 or 400 trees. The city is now determining where to plant the trees, ideally in the fall, King said.
According to the management plan, the city’s residential streets saw the largest decrease of trees. In 2005, such streets had 3,139 trees, 456 fewer than in 1991. The city’s minor arterial streets, which serve as gateways to El Cerrito’s retail areas and neighborhoods, saw a loss of 60 trees from 1991 to 2005, lowering the total along such roads to 976.
The city’s major arterials- San Pablo and Central avenues and Cutting Boulevard- experienced an increase of 73 trees. There were 510 trees along such thoroughfares in 2005. All the numbers include dead trees.
A 2005 study found 6 percent of the street trees were either dead or in poor health, and 12 percent hadn’t grown since 1991, which could mean a tree had reached maturity or hadn’t been able to grow because of other issues. “Analysis of inventory data indicates that El Cerrito’s street trees are in generally poor health, primarily due to a lack of irrigation and consistent, high-quality maintenance,” the plan states.
King said the plan includes a guidebook for how the city should properly take care of its trees and provides guidelines on how many trees should be planted annually to keep an adequate inventory throughout the city. El Cerrito is in the process of figuring out whom its consulting forester will be; King said it looks like a city employee will manage a maintenance-tracking software system to keep tabs on tree care.
The city also is in the process of creating a community tree committee of residents and business representatives. According to the city’s Web site, the committee’s responsibilities will include coordinating with urban forestry staff management and maintenance efforts, fostering volunteer campaigns for tree-planting and irrigation along El Cerrito streets and in the front yards of residences and generating urban forestry money from private sources to supplement the city’s funding.
For the full article, visit Contra Costa Times.