Saturday, October 17, 2015

Arbor Day event plants trees to help preserve Benicia's natural habitat

(Originally published in the 10/13/15 edition. Valerie Roberts Gray also contributed to this story.)

   Arbor Day is a chance to get your hands in the dirt, commune with nature and help plant trees that can withstand California’s ongoing drought conditions. 
   While traditionally held in April, Benicia’s annual Arbor Day event takes place this Sunday, Oct. 18.Volunteers from throughout the community are invited to join in helping plant native trees at the Benicia State Recreation Area from 9 a.m. to noon.
   The event is typically held in October in Benicia to coincide with the Native Plant Society’s annual sale, according to Tina Marchetti, the executive director of Benicia Tree Foundation.
   So far in 2015, the Benicia Tree Foundation has planted 480 trees. According to Marchetti, the organization plans to plant another 25 trees on Saturday and another 200 by the end of the year, bringing the total number of trees planted to 705.
   The trees will mostly be coast live oaks and California buckeyes, according to Marchetti. This includes over 100 oaks that will be planted at Lake Herman.
   The trees were grown from locally collected seed and will survive on rainwater once the rain season starts.
   Marchetti believes Arbor Day is an important holiday to celebrate because trees are vital to life, especially in Benicia.
   “Trees are critically important to the health and happiness of the citizens of Benicia especially when you consider the refineries and freeways,” she said. “They also create shade, habitat for wildlife and store stormwater, which is critical for a time of drought.”
   Events include communal tree planting, exhibitions, fairs, music performances and open days in garden centers. Arbor Day awards are also presented in communities, schools, and organizations throughout the United States.
   All ages are welcome to attend the event, and according to Marchetti, the tasks aren’t too daunting.
   “We’re planting seedlings, so there’s no heavy lifting involved,” she said.
   Participants should meet at the Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden parking lot about 1 mile down State Park Road off I-780 at Columbus Parkway. An entrance fee will be waived for volunteers.  No experience is necessary. Gloves are encouraged to be brought.  Tools, instruction and snacks will be provided. 

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