The idea of a Benicia Tree Foundation began with establishment of a Tree Subcommittee to help the City update its Tree Ordinance. This process was followed by the Valero Good Neighbor Steering Committee and Valero Energy Corporation which agreed to allocate funding for trees in Benicia. These events allowed the Benicia Tree Foundation (BTF) to take root. BTF has grown into a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by a coalition of individuals from the community, the California Native Plant Society, and landscape industry professionals who signed up at Benicia’s inaugural Tree City USA event in 2009.
The mission of The Benicia Tree Foundation is to strengthen community by promoting and supporting tree planting, maintenance, and education.
On a year-round basis, we will offer an innovative, integrated, and engaging range of programs focused on building community and a vibrant urban forest. Health and sustainability will be promoted through tree planting and preservation, and environmental education programs that result in significant and measurable improvements in Benicia’s urban forest and reduction of Benicia’s carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint. We envision that all Benicia’s will have the opportunity to participate in enhancing and enjoying the urban forest, regardless of income, or property owner status.
Benicia was largely a treeless landscape until it was settled as a city in the Gold Rush era. New residents planted trees for many reasons such as for shade, wind protection, or to increase the value of their property. City government planted trees as it built streets and parks. The City currently owns over 4,300 trees. The City also required developers to plant trees as new neighborhoods were built.
Benicia has a need for more trees, if the right trees are planted in the right place and are maintained. Trees along many streets in Benicia have died and have not been replaced. State and federal regulations are encouraging urban areas to plant more trees to help reduce pollution to our air and water. Many residents, however, have spent large sums of money removing trees from their property for a variety of good reasons, such damage from tree roots, unwanted shade, excessive litter, or a blocked view.
The purpose of this Strategic Plan is to help guide the activities of BTF to accomplish its mission with the support of the community. These activities are taking place in an environment that presently does not place a high priority on trees. The Strategic Plan identifies actions that can begin changing this environment during the next five years and help the BTF develop a lasting relationship with the community.
Theory of change: what is it we are going to change? How will we change it? What indicates that this approach is going to be effective? What will be the metrics or indicators of this change?
“The most difficult task in delivering any community strategy is to generate sufficient interest to motivate residents to become involved. Of course, those with keen interest in trees and the environment will welcome the chance. However, for the majority of urban residents, trees have little significance in their everyday lives and it is often unrealistic to expect an immediate response.” (Johnston 1989)
"Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn." - Lord Orrery, 1749
Residents in Benicia are concerned about property rights and values with respect to trees. Few citizens support a top down governmental approach, so engendering grass roots support for enhancing the city’s tree canopy is essential. The City and BTF must be seen as supportive partners who bring needed information and resources to the table,. Citizens may be attracted to volunteering and participating in projects where “things get done” versus political or policy based activities.
Establishing a cadre of dedicated tree advocates in Benicia will help advance and leverage support for trees in the city. This cadre may be developed as “Benicia tree-keepers” with a basic skill set that enables them to catalyze the urban forestry movement in the city. Both adult and youth tree-keepers are desired.
Stimulating this level of interest requires a long-term strategy of education, information, networking, volunteer opportunities & events. This can be done through a variety of media, such as advisory and promotional materials about trees and tree care; environmental education projects for schools and youth groups; lectures/presentations to community groups; tree tours; and exhibitions and displays in community centers, schools, libraries, and other civic buildings. BTF shall develop consistent monthly events and communications that keep urban forestry efforts in Benicia on people’s minds.
It is essential for us to accomplish our goals through establishing organizational partnerships and collaborations in Benicia. Some of our collaboration may involve filling gaps or complementing the work of others. We will seek any relevant opportunities to work with other community groups, local businesses and the City on activities consistent with our mission statement.
BTF endeavors to establish a suite of programs and activities that demonstrate a collective annual impact, including:
BTF has established office space, a website, hired a part-time executive director, and acquired some equipment and a truck. Additional actions include:
A PDF version of our Strategic Plan Summary is available by clicking here. A summary of our accomplishments to date are available by clicking here. The entire Strategic Plan is available by clicking here.
|BTF Strategic Plan Executive Summary 2010 10-24-11.pdf||221.94 KB|
|BTF Accomplishments 10-24-11.pdf||54.37 KB|