In 2017, we joined forces with CalFire to help their efforts of advancing “the development of sustainable urban and community forests in California,” and in our particular case, the Stockton community.
What is Urban Forestry?
In its simplest terms, Urban Forestry can be defined as planting trees in urban communities. Trees and green spaces (places where nature is accessible, such as public parks) have been shown to benefit communities on every front. Increased accessibility to these areas correlate with everything from more positive health outcomes, to reducing neighborhood violence.
Urban communities are disproportionately affected by nature-deficit disorder; that is to say, they experience the majority of the negative effects that come with being isolated from nature. Children that are growing up in urban environments spend less time playing outside than ever before, and that disconnect is showing in the health disparities.
We’re not saying going outside can cure all ills; it can’t. Especially in today’s environment, the amount of air pollution is unheard of. There is one thing that can mitigate the effects of this pollution though—trees. Trees, plants, and green spaces actually take all kinds of pollution out of the air and turn it into the oxygen we breathe. They take dirty air and make it clean. Here at PUENTES, it has become one of our many projects to ensure that every member of our Stockton community, no matter where you live, has access to clean air.
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Current Projects Within The Program
Funded by Cal Fire and Cal ReLeaf, PUENTES has created a series of local partnerships to advance three projects during the 2017-2020 period. The first involves working together with our neighboring Washington School, Community Center, and the Port of Stockton. This pilot program primarily focuses on transforming the tree canopy of our surrounding Boggs Tract neighborhood. The work started with the Arboranza festival in April 2017. With Cal ReLeaf’s financial support and assistance from PG&E at the Arboranza, we started the planting of over two hundred trees at the Farm, the school, and the Port. This is being followed with workshops for the community, volunteer participation in tree planting, and the sponsorship of outdoor ecology training for Washington School children.
The second project, financed by Cal Fire, is an effort to spread the work of our Boggs Tract pilot project more broadly across the community. Working together with the Port of Stockton, Stockton Unified School District, the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Ten Space Development, and the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, we will add more than 1200 trees to the Stockton tree canopy. Some of these trees will be added to the campuses of ten more Stockton schools, and children from these schools will participate in tree plantings and an ecology training program at the Durham Ferry Outdoor Learning Center.
Other partners will also host tree plantings and other community activities that will expand the tree canopies at the Port, the Fairgrounds and in downtown Stockton. Students from Stagg High School will participate in the SLEWS outdoor education program at Durham Ferry, and along with students in the Great Valley Conservation Corps will have an opportunity to develop practical and occupational skills in urban forestry work. Our private-public partnership will also encourage residents and businesses in the surrounding areas to get involved in our tree planting activities.
Want to help out our Urban Forestry efforts?
Photos courtesy of Aubrey Kimball (header)
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