By the City of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Beautiful, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing Santa Barbara’s beauty, has awarded the City’s Urban Forestry program a $20,000 grant to support tree-planting efforts in 2023. The 57-year partnership between the organization and the Urban Forestry program has led to the planting of over 13,000 street trees – trees located in the parkway between the sidewalk and the street curb.
“Santa Barbara Beautiful is honored to support this incredibly worthwhile program and its long-standing commitment to the sustainable future of Santa Barbara’s urban forest,” said David Gress, Chairman of Santa Barbara Beautiful’s Horticulture Committee. “It is a benefit for all who live and visit here.”
Street tree planting has been a collaborative effort between the City and Santa Barbara Beautiful since shortly after the organization’s inception in 1965. Most efforts began as small-scale projects focused on single blocks or less. In 1976, when the City’s Street Tree Master Plan identified 5,500 empty street tree locations, Santa Barbara Beautiful launched a fundraising campaign to purchase the needed trees and has continued to provide funding for additional trees each year, allowing the Urban Forestry budget to prioritize the care and maintenance of one of California’s most diverse urban forests.
The 2023 funding will be used to purchase more than 200 trees sized 15 gallons or larger. “Planting efforts will focus primarily on the Oak Park and lower Eastside neighborhoods, as these have been identified as having the greatest number of vacant planting sites,” said Nathan Slack, City of Santa Barbara Urban Forest Superintendent. “Specific tree species will be determined by the City’s official Street Tree Designation List.”
Once planted, the new trees will be added to the Urban Forestry program’s maintenance and watering schedule, with extra attention given in the first 2-3 years to ensure the survival and establishment of the young trees after transplanting. As the trees become established and require less intense maintenance, additional trees can be planted and added to the program’s maintenance schedule. This approach ensures that plantings do not outpace the staff and financial resources needed to maintain Santa Barbara’s urban forest.
“Residents outside the planned planting areas who have the means to water a new street tree are encouraged to contact our office to request a tree be planted,” said Slack. “We have the capacity to plant more trees if residents can assist with watering.”
The public can support Santa Barbara Beautiful’s ongoing tree-planting efforts by making a direct donation or participating in the Commemorative Tree Program and dedicating an available street tree with a commemorative plaque.
The City of Santa Barbara Urban Forestry program operates within the Parks and Recreation Department and manages approximately 75,000 trees, 35,000 of which are street trees. With over 450 tree species, Santa Barbara has one of the most diverse urban forests in California. To learn more, visit SantaBarbaraCa.gov/UrbanForest