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Arroyo Grande adds more trees to help with storm water, beautification

Preschool and kindergarten children from various local schools attended a tree planting on Friday at Arroyo Grande’s Elm Street Park in honor of Arbor Day. Here, Kyle Wilson, 5, holds a redwood sapling of his own.
Preschool and kindergarten children from various local schools attended a tree planting on Friday at Arroyo Grande’s Elm Street Park in honor of Arbor Day. Here, Kyle Wilson, 5, holds a redwood sapling of his own. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

After receiving a local conservation grant, Arroyo Grande is using its extra green to add some green of a different type around the city.

The Tree Guild of Arroyo Grande will plant 10 new trees throughout the city this year, using funds from a $990 grant from the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District for storm water retention. The trees will replace ones that have been removed over the years because of damage or disease, said Kristen Barneich, city councilwoman and founder of The Tree Guild.

According to Barneich, the funds will go not only toward buying the trees and planting supplies, but also toward widening existing wells — the expanse of dirt surrounding trees planted in cement along sidewalks — which will give more space for storm water to collect and filter into the ground.

“It’s nice because this is a collaborative effort,” Barneich said of the tree plantings. “We’re going to do the planning and planting of the actual trees, while the city will cut the concrete and maintain the tree in the future. It’s an excellent opportunity for these three agencies to come together on something.”

Barneich founded The Tree Guild in 2005 because she noticed trees were disappearing in Arroyo Grande and not being replaced. She said trees are an important aspect of city beautification and development. To date, the group has planted 339 trees throughout the city.

“There’s all kinds of benefits associated with a healthy urban forest,” Barneich said. “It helps clean the air and the water; it’s habitat for birds, shade for people. They are also just pretty to look at and soften the hardscape of our communities.”

Barneich noted that studies have shown shoppers will stay in business districts with more trees longer than those with fewer trees, which benefits the local economy.

“You just have to look around to see it,” she said. “When you find a successful downtown, it almost always has a healthy urban forest. Think downtown SLO, Carmel, Pasadena.”

When you find a successful downtown, it almost always has a healthy urban forest. Think downtown SLO, Carmel, Pasadena.

Kristen Barneich, The Tree Guild of Arroyo Grande founder

Five of the trees — a mix of Brisbane box and Little Gem magnolia, which are both evergreens — will be planted in July, with the rest scheduled to be planted later in the year, Barneich said. The group kicked off the planned plantings with an event last week on Arbor Day.

The Tree Guild, with the help of several preschoolers and kindergarteners in the city’s recreation classes, planted a liquidambar, or, sweetgum, tree in Elm Street Park on Friday.

“It went well,” Barneich said Monday with a laugh. “You know we have to limit the amount of times they (the children) can dig, because otherwise they won’t stop.”

The little saplings received mini saplings of their own. Each child who helped at Friday’s event received a miniature redwood tree to plant at home.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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