By Julie Farren
Highland, CA (June 22, 2007)- Highland’s investment in its silk oak and sycamore trees can have a lasting and positive effect on the community. “It just shows our commitment to urban forestry,” City Manager Joe Hughes said. “We try to encourage the community to plant trees and take care of them. It benefits the whole community.” Getting residents involved and interested in trees is one way of establishing neighborhood pride, which is Highland’s goal as it enters its 17th year as a Tree City USA Community, Hughes said.
Maintenance workers Lance Arnegard, left, and Pino Perez stake a tree in Community Park in Highland, which spends $154,000 annually toward the city forestry program. A city crew performs regular upkeep and trimming is contracted out.
Highland is among six Inland communities recognized as tree cities for at least a decade by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Jessica Sutorus, a Highland resident for seven years and an environmental educator with the Highland Environmental Education Coalition, said Highland is on track to become a green city. It may not have as many trees as Riverside but only because Highland was incorporated 18 years ago, Sutorus said. “Highland’s a new city and they’re really on the cusp of becoming a model city,” Sutorus said.
Hemet has been listed as a Tree City USA Community for 20 years, Riverside for 19 years, Corona for 18 years, Redlands for 12 years and Fontana for 11 years.
About 160 California cities have met the requirements to be listed as a tree city. They include having: a tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program; and an Arbor Day observance.
Hughes said the annual budget for the city’s forestry program is $154,000. Trees in different parts of the city are trimmed annually, with the work being handled this year by a La Habra company. A city maintenance crew does the regular upkeep and cares for trees that are damaged or infested, he said.
For Arbor Day, the city planted trees in Central Park.
Trees offer many benefits, such as producing shade and reducing utility bills, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation. Trees also clean the air, conserve soil and water and moderate temperature.
Trees are very important in Hemet, an older community of more than 66,000 residents, Hemet Parks Supervisor Ross Cortz said. Cortz said Hemet has more than 60,000 trees and that about 130 are planted each year at a cost of about $300 per tree. Some are replaced because of disease.
“We pretty much know which trees are giving us problems,” he said. One type, the ash tree, has been affected by an airborne fungus, he said. There are about 500 ash trees in the city, and many of the older trees have been replaced because of the fungus.
“When we take a tree out, we put another one in,” Cortz said.
Redlands Street Tree Committee is responsible for preserving city trees along public parkways. But recently, the city has talked about reducing its commissions, disbanding the volunteer group and assigning its duties to the Parks Commission. That move would negate the hard work the committee has done because without the group, many of the city trees that have been removed would not have been replaced, Street Tree chairwoman Chris Sedmack said.
The city has more than 6,000 locations where new trees could be planted or older ones could be replaced, she said. So far, more than 250 trees have been planted at $50 each through the Redlands Honorary Tree program, Sedmack said.
The group recently planted 100 trees at Cope Middle School in Redlands only to have them vandalized within a month. Sedmack said the group went back out to replace some of the trees. Sedmack said Redlands takes great pride in its oaks and other varieties that line the city streets.
“Redlands loves its trees,” she said.
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