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. Over the next three years, 1,200 additional trees are distributed.


TreePeople plants its one millionth tree TreePeople saves 26,000 excess bare-root fruit trees from wholesale growers in California’s Central Valley. The trees are pruned and bagged by volunteers, and then distributed to low-income families and tribal communities through food banks, churches, and schools.

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. In response to The City of Los Angeles Planning Department calling for the planting of a million trees to help Los Angeles comply with the 1970 Clean Air Act. The city estimates that it would require twenty years to plant and 200 million dollars. TreePeople completes the massive undertaking in just three years.


In February, TreePeople mobilizes 3,000 volunteers to assist local homeowners in volunteer-organized emergency-relief efforts during excessive rains and flooding. Andy Lipkis appears on The Tonight Show, and Johnny Carson makes a personal contribution to replace shovels lost during the relief work. On the tenth anniversary of Earth Day, 2,000 people attend a celebration at the TreePeople headquarters.


TreePeople closes the Marina Freeway for a Tree Run to raise money for urban forestry. The Tree Run attracts 5,000 runners. TreePeople membership program begins. TreePeople and 5,000 runners close down CA-90 for the Tree Run to raise money for urban forestry.


TreePeople mobilizes volunteers for disaster-relief work after severe rains and local flooding, resulting in the headquarters being designated L.A.’s Emergency Resource Center. Community programs at Coldwater Canyon Park begins. 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. The California Conservation Project officially becomes TreePeople, Inc.


By the end of this fourth year, TreePeople plants 50,000 trees. TreePeople officially takes over the Mountain Fire Station grounds as its headquarters. The site is immediately designated as Coldwater Canyon Park.


TreePeople finds a home at what is now called Coldwater Canyon Park. The Los Angeles City Recreation & Parks Department grants TreePeople a conditional-use permit of its Mountain Fire Station 108 to develop a small-scale nursery to grow seedlings. The Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) donates a ’50s vintage fuel truck, which becomes TreePeople’s water truck.


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. The California Conservation Project rallies the California Division of Forestry, California Air National Guide, U.S Forest Service, Los Angeles Urban Forest Council, L.A. Bicentennial Committee, Southern California Edison, Camp JCA, and numerous civic groups and schools to prepare 10,000 trees for planting during the week of Arbor Day. The public unofficially renames the California Conservation Project “the tree people.”


In April, the article, “Andy vs. the Bureaucratic Deadwood,” appears in the Los Angeles Times with a public request for four thousand dollars to fund a summer tree planting of 8,000 trees in the San Bernardino National Forest. $10,000 is raised. The California Conservation Project, the predecessor to TreePeople, is incorporated.


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. The US Forest Service rangers share with the campers that the trees were dying so quickly there would possibly be no forest remaining by the year 2000—unless someone replanted the forest with smog resistant trees. Lipkis decides it was up to kids like him and his fellow campers to take action and save the forest.