River Park NeighborWoods: A Blue Print for Success
By: Kate Riley (Volunteer Extrordinare)
October 1, 2016
If you don’t love trees already, you will learn to love them
living in River Park. The soil is deep, rich and sandy, and trees grow to
remarkable size in this rich alluvial plain.
I moved to River Park in 1986. My block was deeply shaded,
mostly by Modesto ash trees planted when the homes were built in the early
1950’s. However, before the decade was up, my beautiful Modesto ash had to be
removed because it was hollowed out by rot. Most of the ash trees on my block
had perished from Anthracnose. I noticed other blocks in River Park also
suffering from loss of canopy due to disease and poor, or no, arborist care.
For me, this was unacceptable. I understand the value of a
tree and I couldn’t imagine my neighborhood devoid of these gentle sentinels.
In 2014, I drafted proposal for an urban canopy program for River Park. I mentioned the idea to Todd Damiano, then
President of the River Park Neighborhood Association Board (RPNA). He liked it and suggested I talk to the Board
about it. I did, and asked the Board for their support – including having some
Board Members be on the Project Advisory Committee.
In late 2014, the River Park Tree Canopy Project was born! With
our own Community Forester, Matt Buland (who was raised in River Park and knew
first-hand the benefits of River Park’s tree canopy), we were ready to address
our tree priorities. At our first Steering Committee meeting in late 2014 at
the Tree Foundation, Steve Johns, who works for SMUD, and served on the RPNA
Board, suggested we do our first planting in February 2015. We worked closely
with the RPNA, and with our Council Member, Jeff Harris, in planning the first
event. Sign-ups were done on the RPNA
website and, later, at community events such as the Pops in the Park and Fourth
of July Festival. I’d like to think that
our first try was a rousing success with 27 trees planted at 17 homes!
Since we had so much fun in February, we decided to have our
second planting in November 2015 with 29 trees planted at 17 homes. Total, in
year one, River Park was the lucky recipient of 56 trees at 34 homes! Our plans
now are for annual plantings on the second Saturday in November. Our next
planting is November 12.
I think if I was to give advice to folks who want to help
build the tree canopy where they live, I’d say: work with your neighbors to
build excitement and buy in. Healthy tree canopy equals a healthy community, so
the more people you have on board the better! Reach out to the Tree Foundation
early. Form a steering committee and get
together to hash out what the goals are and who is doing what. Each time we do an activity I am so thrilled
by the positive response. Folks love
trees and they love working together to beautify their neighborhoods.
Many thanks to our first Steering Committee members Todd Damiano,
Steve Johns, Kim Teague, Lee Ruth, Jan Wooley, Sydney Coatsworth, & Doug
Leslie. Additionally, thank you to the River
Park Garden Club and Council Member Jeff Harris who have signed on to be a
co-sponsor of our Project. We couldn’t do it without you!
Perhaps you'd like the opportunity to grow and protect the
forest in your very own neighborhood? Join tens of thousands of people across the nation who commit to making their communities greener and
healthier through planting trees during the month of October! Keep your NeighborWoods vibrant!