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On Saturday, April 14th, 21 volunteers from the Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop, Watsonville Wetlands Watch, and Watsonville High School partnered with the City's Parks and Community Services to plant trees in Marinovich Park on 2nd Street.
The City's Environmental Science Workshop participated in a community tree planting on the morning of Saturday, April 14th that included high school aged leaders from the workshop, Watsonville Wetlands Watch staff and volunteers, and graduating high school seniors from Watsonville High School completing their Community Action Project. The new trees will grow to a massive 40 - 50 feet, providing significant shade to the park with their beautiful, branching and leafy canopies.
From an educational perspective, the action of planting trees instills an ethic in Watsonville youth that aligns with sustainability leadership for our future; the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence. The roots of these trees will uphold the environmental integrity of Second Street for years to come, and their nourishing canopies will support bird species that will disperse seeds and assist in pollination of vital habitat throughout Watsonville. The interconnectivity and resiliency of living systems in urban environments can often be overlooked, and the City is proud of our partners and youth for participating in and caring deeply about our inner-city thriving.
As part of the Watsonville Urban Forest Revitalization Project, the four trees rooted in Marinovich Park included three, drought tolerant Black Tupelos and one impressive Gingko tree. Gingkos in particular are hailed as undoubtedly one of the most distinct and stunning of all deciduous trees, and they certainly stand out. Unique, fan-shaped leaves turn a vibrant yellow color in the fall. Gingkos can tolerate many urban conditions including heat, air pollution, salt, and confined spaces, and they establish easily. The tree is also a living fossil, with the earliest leaf fossils dating from roughly 270 million years ago. Gingkos resurfaced in China in 1691 and were brought to the United States in the late 1700s. Known for their healing power, the seeds and leaves have been and continue to be used today in medicinal practices throughout the world. The species of Gingko planted at Second Street is the non-fruiting variety, reducing the amount of maintenance needed while still providing shade, adding to park aesthetic, and providing ample habitat for birds and small mammals. This individual tree alone could live up to 3,000 years!
Lorena Mendoza, lead planting staff from Watsonville Wetlands Watch, is living proof of the efficacy of sustainability leadership programs designed for Watsonville's young leaders. Saturday's tree planting was remarkably special as Lorena often visited the Science Workshop on Second Street as a budding environmental scientist and student, engaging in science exploration and learning about environmental conservation. Lorena is now employed by Wetlands Watch as a Restoration Technician, working in the plant nursery and leading restoration projects. She continues her own education at Cabrillo College, studying permaculture and ecology.
"These trees are like our students. They grow up here, they root themselves firmly in our community. To me, it is always so encouraging to see our Science Workshop alumni turn around and make a difference in Watsonville and I am never surprised, for these young leaders it is inherent, it is just a part of who they are. They, like our trees, are our future." - Darren Gertler, Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop Coordinator.
Funding for the Watsonville Urban Forest Revitalization Project is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as part of the California Climate Investments Program and is in partnership with Watsonville Wetlands Watch.