Since the early 1900s, the City of Richmond has been defined by its intensive industrial legacy. During its boom, Richmond was home to a number of railways, oil refineries like Chevron, and bustling shipyards. To make way for these industries, the natural land was cleared, flattened, and rebuilt into concrete workspaces. Sadly, prosperity was short-lived and jobs became harder and harder to come by as industries moved out of the area or closed down. With the loss of employment, the more affluent members of Richmond moved out, and those who stuck it out were left with a suffering economy and a bleak natural landscape.
It is not a coincidence that poorer cities often tend to be less green. Communities in Richmond, including The Iron Triangle and Coronado, are almost completely depleted of trees and well-maintained green spaces. A recent study showed that cities with lower per capita income (i.e., lower tax bases) are not as likely to support and maintain trees, nor to restore deforested spaces. Poorer communities are often not afforded the luxury of picturesque, tree-lined streets. But we can now see the presence of trees is a necessity for improving healthful communities and is a smart economic choice. Trees shade houses in the summer and reduce cooling bills. They remove pollutants from rainwater and from the air, a major concern for Richmond residents who are neighbors to the Chevron refinery. Trees decrease anxiety and even help reduce feelings of fear and anger. The bottom line is that people need more trees in their neighborhoods to increase their basic quality of life; people need to be immersed in an “urban forest.” Many Richmond residents are getting behind this movement, but with limited resources and budget, they’re left begging the question, “Who’s going to help us restore our urban tree canopy?”
The Watershed Project’s Greening Urban Watersheds Program is on a mission to contribute 200 trees to the City of Richmond’s “urban forest” by the spring of 2014. With funding from CalFire and a strong partnership with the City of Richmond, The Watershed Project is planting maple, bay, ash, redwood, and oak trees along the Richmond Greenway and its neighboring streets. The addition of California native trees will decrease flooding on these roadways, filter out pollutants in the water and air, and generally make residents more excited about their outdoor environment by making the neighborhoods surrounding the Greenway more beautiful.
Undeniably, young trees do require some care through the dry season in Bay Area, so in some cases we are requesting a little help from the community. If you are a Richmond resident and would like a tree in front of your house, we are more than happy to plant it for you and teach you how to care for it. Click here for our Adopt-A-Tree application. Having trees in your neighborhood should not be a luxury. We hope that in ten years, the streets of Richmond will look more like they should: green and cool with trees all over.