Photo Courtesy of TreePeople

After what city officials termed a “grave mistake” with the removal of palm trees from the median on Brand Boulevard nearly three years ago, the City of San Fernando is getting a renewed look with the help of members and volunteers of the environmental organization, TreePeople 

The organization began a long-term project with the planting 34 of 700 planned trees in the city as part of this year’s recognition of Earth Day.

The 34 trees planted along Truman Avenue, from San Fernando Mission Boulevard to Brand Boulevard, were selected by the City of San Fernando. The drought tolerant plants, known as Pink Trumpet trees, will provide a shady and beautiful landscape in the middle of the business district.

 “We plant 15-gallon trees. We don’t like to plant large trees because it takes them longer to get established,” said Pam Gibson, TreePeople’s regional manager for the Northeast Valley, who led a team of dedicated volunteers in the planting on Saturday, April 14.

In October 2015, six Queen palm trees were cut down along Brand Boulevard in a job that was part of a contract for a major drought landscape renovation along that boulevard. Residents protested the removal of the trees. The landscaping architect who had contracted with the City took full responsibility for the mistake.

Cindy Montanez a former mayor of San Fernando, was part of the protest. She later became the chief executive director of the TreePeople organization.

The Pink Trumpet trees — whose growth can be kept to 10-20 feet — “should start blossoming and growing a lot quicker,” Gibson said.

When your job is to deal with trees like Gibson, Earth Day — the annual date when people around the world work on nature projects to create awareness about the importance of protecting the planet — doesn’t have the same significance as for the Average Joe.

LA River Cleanup

Trees are important, but they don’t grow without water. That’s what another organization is focused on.

Dozens of volunteers April 13-15 were removing tires, supermarket carts, trash of all types and even couches and other assorted furniture from the banks of the Los Angeles River. People were fanned out along the Sepulveda Basin/Balboa Sports Complex and Glendale Narrows Riverwalk for the first of three weekends of the Friends of the LA River (FoLAR) Annual Great LA River CleanUp.

The effort continues this weekend and the next. But Michael Atkins, Communications & Impact Manager at FoLAR, says everyone can do their part for the environment.

“Households across SoCal should take measures to minimize their own water footprint, such as capturing stormwater to irrigate their lawns and converting lawns to native vegetation that is drought resistant,” he said.

“At FoLAR we promote an awareness of the health of our river to foster a greater understanding of our impact as humans. Any CleanUp volunteer can testify that taking the small steps like carrying their own personal water bottle or shopping with re-useable bags can have a big impact on promoting ecological health in our urban river”, he added.

FoLAR Executive Director Marissa Christiansen notes that the “LA River’s importance to multiple communities along the river – stretching from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, and including residents, businesses and homeless populations – is becoming center stage for how LA shapes its future.”

The 51-mile river winds its way from the Valley to the Pacific Ocean. There are plans to convert it into a true natural oasis replete with park areas and other amenities along its banks.

“Every Weekend is Earth Day”

Earth Day — this year on Sunday, April 22 — is celebrated in over 190 countries by one billion people. Founded in 1970 by US Senator Gaylord Nelson and organized by Denis Hayes, it led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

“For me, every weekend pretty much is Earth Day,” said Gibson, who often coordinates several plantings and other efforts during the weekend.

Still, it’s important to mark the day and encourages everyone to get involved, she said.

And the easiest way to do this is near your own house.

“Go out in your neighborhoods and take a look at the trees and on your property,” Gibson said.

“As important as it is to plant trees, you also have to take care of them,” she notes. “Water them. See if you can take some of the grass away from the trunk of the tree and give them some water.

“It’s basically up to us to take personal responsibility for the urban forest,”  Gibson added.

She says that, ideally, they would like to have the urban canopy — the number of trees in respect to buildings — at about 25 percent. “In some cities is at 12 to 13 percent,” Gibson said.

“There are a lot of areas in Los Angeles where the canopy is horrendous. And that’s why we get this heat island effect and it’s so much hotter in those areas.”

That’s why TreePeople, she said, is working actively to reduce this effect. One of its projects is Vena Avenue Elementary in Arleta. The project involves removing a huge slab of asphalt in the yard and replacing it with California native plants, benches, tree logs, stomps and other natural elements.

“It’s a way to transform the environment. The children can have an outdoor classroom, sit under the trees, attract butterflies,” Gibson said.

LA River Cleanup

Trees are important, but they don’t grow without water. That’s what another organization is focused on.

Dozens of volunteers April 13-15 were removing tires, supermarket carts, trash of all types and even couches and other assorted furniture from the banks of the Los Angeles River. People were fanned out along the Sepulveda Basin/Balboa Sports Complex and Glendale Narrows Riverwalk for the first of three weekends of the Friends of the LA River (FoLAR) Annual Great LA River CleanUp.

The effort continues this weekend and the next. But Michael Atkins, Communications & Impact Manager at FoLAR, says everyone can do their part for the environment.

“Households across SoCal should take measures to minimize their own water footprint, such as capturing stormwater to irrigate their lawns and converting lawns to native vegetation that is drought resistant,” he said.

“At FoLAR we promote an awareness of the health of our river to foster a greater understanding of our impact as humans. Any CleanUp volunteer can testify that taking the small steps like carrying their own personal water bottle or shopping with re-useable bags can have a big impact on promoting ecological health in our urban river”, he added.

FoLAR Executive Director Marissa Christiansen notes that the “LA River’s importance to multiple communities along the river – stretching from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, and including residents, businesses and homeless populations – is becoming center stage for how LA shapes its future.”

The 51-mile river winds its way from the Valley to the Pacific Ocean. There are plans to convert it into a true natural oasis replete with park areas and other amenities along its banks.

On April 21, the cleanup will focus on the area of Los Feliz and on April 28, along Compton. If you don’t want to drive too far away, you can stay closer to home and participate in an Earth Day cleanup in Pacoima on Saturday, April 21. The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 10400 Glenoaks Boulevard, corner of Montague Street.