On Saturday, January 26, 2019, TreePeople, California State Coastal Conservancy, and the City of San Fernando joined to launch Calles Verdes: an initiative to green the city!
This initiative is a multi-benefit greening project that will engage thousands of community and youth members to transform San Fernando into a model City for climate resilience.
At least 750 trees will be planted to shade sundrenched streets and absorb harmful greenhouse gasses. Streets and parking lots will be redesigned and constructed with innovative features that will capture precious stormwater to bolster water supplies and reduce polluted runoff.
“We are overhauling the way we think about infrastructure and public health given our new climate reality. Planting trees and protecting our groundwater needs to be central for economic revitalization and long-term resilience of our neighborhoods”Cindy Montanez, TreePeople CEO and former Mayor of San Fernando.
The kickoff served as a key moment to educate the public about the health and environmental threats that residents of San Fernando face due to climate change – such as extreme heat, which is life threatening! More Americans are killed by extreme heat events than all other natural disasters combined. And climatologists have identified San Fernando as “ground zero” for urban heat island impact, meaning that it is one of the communities most at risk from increasing heat. The City already averages 54 extreme heat days (95 degrees or higher) annually, and that number is predicted to nearly double by mid-century if measures are not taken to reverse the trend.
Currently, San Fernando neighborhoods have less than 17% tree cover, which is less than half the average of higher-income communities in the Los Angeles region. As a result, San Fernando residents experience severe environmental health challenges, including high rates of respiratory illnesses, obesity, and cancer.
San Fernando Calles Verdes will significantly expand tree canopy in vulnerable neighborhoods, growing the City’s tree inventory by more than 10%. TreePeople will partner with community volunteers to plant climate-appropriate trees throughout the City with a focus on streets where kids walk to school, elderly visit senior centers, and families go to parks and shopping areas.
With shade trees having been found to reduce street temperatures by upwards of 15 degrees, San Fernando Calles Verdes will not just green the City, it will save lives.
“The people in our hometown are eager to green San Fernando. Trees can unite and empower people of all ages to become part of the solution to improve the quality of life in San Fernando and protect our community against the real threats of pollution and our new climate reality.”Joel Fajardo, Mayor of San Fernando
To celebrate, TreePeople President and Founder Andy Lipkis, the Councilmembers’ Office of the City of San Fernando, and a representative from State Senator Bob Hertzberg’s office kicked off the event with words of encouragement and hope for a greener future for the City of San Fernando. Pictured here is the tree planted by the group, which they named Emma Rose.
Almost a dozen trees were added to Pioneer Park with the help of volunteers of all ages from across Los Angeles. They worked tirelessly through the morning – digging, planting, berming, and watering saplings throughout the park.
Meanwhile next to the playground, a wide range of fruit trees – including lemon, lime, grapefruit, fig, and pomegranate – were handed out to San Fernando residents at no cost. The fruit trees were gone before noon and San Fernando’s tree canopy is expected to grow by over 300 saplings as a result!
At the end of the day, we were surprised by a special guest – Major League Baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds, Yasiel Puig, stopped by the Calles Verdes event to play baseball with a local little league team, and got his hands dirty at our planting! Puig pulled the tree out of its bucket, placed it in the ground, covered its roots in soil, and aptly christened the tree, “Wild Horse,” which is his nickname and the name of his Children’s Foundation.