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Amidst Seasons of Change, Tree Davis Remains Rooted in Community

By Victoria McJunkin | November 6, 2020

When tensions run high, winding down might look like taking a walk amongst the trees—or painting one while sipping some wine. Join Tree Davis this Saturday, November 7, at 4 pm for a Zoom Art & Sip event to celebrate the beauty of our local natural resources by painting fall foliage alongside community members. All supplies provided: tickets available for purchase here

This Art & Sip experience will be the first of many community-building events hosted by Tree Davis. Prior to the pandemic, Tree Davis worked in groups of community members and volunteers to expand Davis’ urban forest. Now, Tree Davis operates masked, in small groups, and relying on staff members to do the vast majority of planting. 

“When we can’t be together in community in the ways that we used to in the past, spending time in nature can be really soothing,” shares Executive Director Erin Donley Marineau. “Tree Davis is constantly looking for more ways to teach and prioritize the community.”

Despite being unable to work in sizable groups, Tree Davis remains busy throughout the pandemic. Dedicated to cultivating a healthy environment, Tree Davis staff found creative solutions to remain invested in Davis’ well-being.

Tree Tagging

Over the summer, Tree Davis launched their 2020 Tree Tagging Project in partnership with the UC Davis Public Garden and Arboretum. From the Greenbelt to Downtown, trees were adorned with tags that highlighted the various ways trees give back to the community: Trees cool our houses with shade, improve our water quality, create jobs, and make businesses better places to spend time.

This Black Walnut Tree, located at Walnut Park, provides us with shade, high-quality wood, and nuts in the fall! It reduces 115lbs of Co2, saves 150kWh of energy, and gives back approximately $85 per year.

“Trees are invaluable. However, without taxpayer support for the urban forest, trees would be relatively sparse in this landscape,” notes Marineau. “The tags served as a reminder that we have collectively invested in having an urban forest, and highlighted how trees give back to us and the environment.” 

Looking ahead, Tree Davis will focus more on the benefits of trees in terms of wellness and public health. Marineau anticipates a new round of tree tags that detail the ways trees promote both mental and physical healing.

Tree Davis’ Current Projects

Now, Tree Davis is hard at work planting trees for its Community Canopy Program enabled by a grant the City of Davis received from CAL FIRE. “The grant will enable us to plant 1,000 trees in the city and develop a 40-year urban forest management plan to ensure that the planted trees are properly cared for,” notes Marineau. “Davis has an aging urban forest. We are working to provide a mixed-age structure canopy for our region so that younger trees are established before we lose the old and dying trees all at once.”

Additionally, through Community Canopy, Tree Davis offers free tree planting for Davis residents! “People can go to our website, request a tree, and we’ll send one of our certified arborists to their home to make a recommendation for what tree is best for that space,” says Marineau. “Then we send staff out to work directly with the homeowner.” 

Free public street trees are available through March 2022! For more information, go to https://www.treedavis.org/city-of-davis-community-canopy.

Staff and volunteers planting trees in prior years. Tree Davis has served the community since its founding in 1992.

Tree Davis has already teamed up with the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corp for planting trees in larger spaces like John Barovetto Park. In the next few weeks, a total of 111 trees will be planted in the park, providing appreciated shade for the sunny field.

The Benefits of Trees

Additionally, that added shade is more important than it seems: having access to a shaded area may be the difference between relaxing on the greenbelt or staying holed up inside amidst rising temperatures. By filtering out particulate matter and removing carbon from the atmosphere, trees serve as one of our best weapons against climate change conditions such as poor air quality and rising temperatures. 

“Climate change is a global problem that can sometimes feel insurmountable. However, planting trees is one of the highest -impact local actions we can take to mitigate the effects of our climate change,” expresses Marineau. “With the added stress of the pandemic, I think that nature is the perfect prescription for the times in which we’re living”

Tree Davis staff aren’t landscapers: they are teachers and collaborators (as showcased through their enthusiasm for community outreach and involvement).

Moving forward, Tree Davis hopes to extend the education branch of its mission to develop a suite of digital materials for public use. “It would include educational resources for environmental justice in our communities, civic engagement, and being stewards of the green spaces in our town,” anticipates Marineau. “There are so many benefits to urban trees and Davis is unique in that we have a relatively mature urban forest.”

Thanks to Tree Davis, we live in a pretty special place. “Even if folks are living in student housing or apartments, the distance it takes for someone to walk to a green space in Davis is usually less than a half-mile,” shares Marineau. “That’s one of the reasons that I’m proud of the work that we do, and I’m proud to call Davis home.”

Victoria McJunkin is a senior at UC Davis and a regular contributor to The Dirt.

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