Arborists sink roots in Morro Bay

Morro Bay has been a registered Tree City USA for 20 years. The Parks and Recreation Department has planted, maintained and promoted Arbor Day through the schools and the Kids Club.

Wally McCray has been the enduring representative who maintains the history, tree list and folklore from previous events.

About two years ago, a renewed interest in planting native and drought-tolerant trees was the topic of discussion at a Morro Bay Beautiful board meeting.

The members, including President Ann Reisner, Treasurer Bill Woodson, June Krystaff-Jones and Councilman Noah Smukler, decided to put some money where their devotion was and dedicated $5,000.

“But we haven’t spent much of that,” Reisner said. “The Tree Committee has been conservative with the funds.”

Thus, Parks and Recreation Director Joe Woods was gifted with new active partners: Morro Bay Beautiful and an all-volunteer Tree Committee created from local industry professionals, including McCray, landscape architects, arborists, biologists and contractors.

Smukler maintains the unofficial — yet dynamic — representatives for the city are “qualified professionals that can take on beautification projects.” And they are.

Selecting fall as the optimum planting season, they carried out their first Arbor Day project on Nov. 22, 2008.

They planted 14 trees bordering Quintana Road starting at City Park and finishing at the shopping centers.

Their second and more comprehensive Arbor Day event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Lila Keiser Park across from Morro Bay High School.Smukler explained that the north part of the parking lot used to have pines that have since died, so their goal is to plant 30 California native and drought-tolerant trees of different varieties.

They intend to take a barren spot, irrigate, mulch and plant it with trees and plants demonstrating what grows well in Morro Bay. The demonstration garden of sorts would act as an example of what would grow with less watering in home gardens.

“Come plant a tree with a landscape architect,” Smukler said. “They can talk gardens and plant at the same time.”

Morro Bay’s Tree City USA partners will continue to educate and plant the city’s “urban forest.” They have an Adopt-A-Tree Program to maintain their ongoing efforts.

The 14 trees planted last year along Quintana have been adopted, but 30 new trees will need “parents.” Updating the tree list has been a high priority, and they are considering a contest to identify a city tree.

“The dahlia is the city flower. We should have a city tree,” Reisner said. “Bring a shovel Arbor Day and help make Morro Bay more beautiful.”