Our History

For 50 years, TreePeople has inspired, engaged, and supported more than 3 million people to take action for our environment by planting and caring for trees in forests, mountains, parks, and our neighborhoods. This is how TreePeople became the largest environmental movement in Southern California:

1970

1970

  • At a summer camp in the San Bernardino Mountains, 15-year-old camp counselor, Andy Lipkis, learns that air pollution from the city was killing Southern California’s forests.
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1973

1973

  • The California Conservation Project, the predecessor to TreePeople, is incorporated.

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1974

1974

  • The California Conservation Project, which was unofficially renamed by the public as “the tree people,” rallies multiple groups to prepare 10,000 trees for planting during the week of Arbor Day.

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1976

1976

  • TreePeople finds a home at what is now called Coldwater Canyon Park.

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1977

1977

  • By the end of this fourth year, TreePeople plants 50,000 trees.
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1978

1978

  • TreePeople is awarded its first education grant by the California Department of Education’s Environmental Education Program, and 15,000 school children are reached in the first year.

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1979

1979

  • TreePeople and 5,000 runners close down CA-90 for the Tree Run to raise money for urban forestry.

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1980

1980

  • In February, TreePeople mobilizes 3,000 volunteers to assist local homeowners in volunteer-organized emergency-relief efforts during excessive rains and flooding.

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1981

1981 – 1984

  • TreePeople launches the Million Tree Campaign. To celebrate, staff and volunteers go to the mountains and plant 7,000 seedlings in one day.

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1984

1984

  • TreePeople plants its one millionth tree
  • TreePeople saves 26,000 bare-root fruit trees and distributes them to tribal communities and low-income families.

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1986

1986

  • The Citizen Forester Training program is established.
  • In the days following a devastating fire, TreePeople coordinates volunteers to rescue thousands of waterlogged books from the Los Angeles Central Library.
  • With the help of Pan Am, TreePeople airlifts 6,000 surplus bare-root fruit trees from California growers to Africa.

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1987

1987

  • TreePeople develops a recycling curriculum for local students. During the school year that follows, 60,000 children go through the program.
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1990

1990

  • TreePeople holds the largest urban planting in its history: a one day planting of nearly 400 trees with 3,000 volunteers along a seven mile stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Los Angeles.

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1994

1994

  • TreePeople launches the T.R.E.E.S. (Transagency Resources for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) to reimagine the urban ecosystem.
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1997

1997

  • TreePeople partners with Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to create the Generation Earth program, which as of today has engaged more than TK students on environmental issues.

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1998

1998

  • TreePeople retrofits a project house to showcase resilient, water saving design – including a 3,600-gallon cistern, a water pump and a dry well. It is bombarded with 4,000 gallons of water in a mock rainstorm at a media event.

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1998

1998 – 2001

  • TreePeople is part of the LADWP’s Cool Schools Program to green campuses throughout the City of Los Angeles.

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1999

1999

  • Second Nature, a guide to adapting LA’s Landscape for sustainable living, is published by TreePeople.
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2002

2002

  • TreePeople is among only 15 agencies worldwide to be honored by the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Committee, receiving the Spirit of the Land Environmental Education Award for their Schoolyard Explorers curriculum.
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2004

2004

  • TreePeople completes construction on one of Los Angeles’ most sustainable buildings—the TreePeople Conference Center—a platinum-rated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building and includes a 217,000-gallon cistern.

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2006

2006

  • TreePeople commits to helping the City of Los Angeles plant 300,000 trees in parklands to support Mayor Villaraigosa’s Million Trees LA Initiative.

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2008

2008

  • TreePeople celebrates the opening of the newly designed educational campus at Coldwater Canyon Park – including the La Kretz Urban Watershed Demonstration Garden, The S. Mark Taper Foundation Environmental Learning Center, W. M. Keck Foundation Nursery, and Parking Grove.

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2009

2009

  • TreePeople, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, launches Forest Aid to plant 35,000 seedlings and help restore the San Bernardino National Forest.

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2010

2010

  • TreePeople completes a six-year watershed project in Sun Valley.
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2011

2011

  • TreePeople plants its 2 millionth tree.
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2012

2012

  • TreePeople launches a research project in partnership with communities in southern California and Australia aimed at sharing best practices in urban rainwater capture and water conservation practices.

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2013

2013

  • TreePeople Celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
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2014

2014

  • TreePeople and The Energy Coalition partnered to organize and lead a delegation of policymakers and elected officials from throughout California to experience and evaluate a range of urban water- and climate-resilience solutions underway in Australia.
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2015

2015

  • TreePeople joins the California Environmental Literacy Task Force, a statewide initiative that is dedicated to supporting environmental literacy for all students.
  • TreePeople helps lead, facilitate and guide the creation of the City of LA’s first ever Stormwater Capture Master Plan.
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2017

2017

  • The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council of the U.S. Forest Service awards the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative, a national partnership lead by TreePeople, to fund urban heat research.
  • TreePeople completes the LA StormCatcher Pilot Project.
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2019

2019

  • TreePeople, California State Coastal Conservancy, and the City of San Fernando joined to launch Calles Verdes.
  • TreePeople, in partnership with County Public Works, begins the Lawns to Landscapes program.
  • TreePeople begins facilitation of the Disadvantaged Community and Tribal Involvement (DACTI) Program, also called WaterTalks, for the California Department of Water Resources.
  • TreePeople expands OurWaterLA, a diverse coalition of community leaders and organizations from across Los Angeles County united to create a strong water future.
  • TreePeople begins planting 2,000 trees throughout Watts along streets, on school campuses, in parks and on residential properties, including distributing 800 trees to residents.
  • TreePeople accepts leadership over the Calabasas-based Mountain Restoration Trust and its stewardship of 3,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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2020

2020

  • TreePeople launches Learn @ Home in response to the State’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • TreePeople assumes the role of Watershed Coordinator for the Santa Clara River Watershed to build capacity and facilitate community and stakeholder engagement with the Safe, Clean Water Program.
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2021

2021

  • TreePeople’s plant production nursery receives Phytosanitary Accreditation for following best management practices for the prevention of soil borne pathogens, such as Phytophthora.
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2022

2022

  • TreePeople helps lead the push for $150 million in state funding for greening schools.
  • TreePeople participates in its first Pride Parade at the Inaugural WeHo Pride Parade in West Hollywood.

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2023

2023

  • TreePeople celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
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