Community Leader Calls Agenda Item Into Question

About that City Council agenda item THE BUZZ posted earlier…

Angelique Ashby, President of the Creekside Neighborhood Association and Co-Founder of North Natomas Crime & Safety Leadership Team, sent the following to both Mayor Heather Fargo and Councilman Ray Tretheway earlier today:

Heather & Ray T. – I have a question about tomorrow’s agenda item number 16. can you explain to us what that item is and why it is on consent?

It appears to be $650,000.00 to count trees… Is that correct?

Obviously in these tough budget times that does not seem like the best use of our already stretched tax dollars – especially while fire stations are on brown outs and police have haulted recruits for the academy.

Would you please fill us in on this item?

To which, a rep from Fargo’s responded with the following background info:

In 2004, Urban Forestry staff with assistance from the citizens advisory committee for Parks and Recreation and community stakeholders reviewed Sacramento Tree Services Best Management Practices study and final report. Together they developed the Urban Forest Best Management Practices Implementation Plan and Urban Forest Enhancement program.

In 2005, City Council approved the Urban Forest Best Management Practices Implementation Plan and Urban Forest Enhancement Program and authorized $1,150,000 to fund the program. Phase 1 of the Urban Forest Enhancement Program was completed in 2006.

Fast forward to 2008…

Tomorrow’s agenda item — an inventory award — pertains to Phase 2 of the Urban Forest Enhancement Program which includes; tree location, planting site, species, and condition of all City street trees and trees located in Parks in addition to a stratum analysis which will estimate the environmental value of the City’s urban forest.

The funding is provided in part by the original Urban Forest Enhancement Program authorization by City Council along with a $200,000 reimbursable grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection.

A message from Tretheway, who also happens to be executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, soon followed:

Thanks for asking your question on the city tree inventory item on tomorrow’s agenda. This item was on last week’s agenda, however, it was pulled and moved to this week. Also, I understand that Councilmember Sandy Sheedy has requested it be moved off the consent calendar and it will be heard at tomorrow’s public hearing.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is very much in support of this inventory. In fact, it is very unusual for a city our size not to have a current and readily accessible tree inventory. These street and park trees represent a public resource of extraordinary value. A conservative estimate of the total net value of our city street and park trees is in excess of $ 1 billion. These values include contributions to air and water quality, energy savings, public health and carbon sequestration. If the city is to properly manage and optimize the benefits of this leafy resource, we must know the structure, function and condition of the resource. The public also benefits from this inventory as it includes – at no cost to the city – an analysis of the current economic values of our street and park trees.

The inventory is one of the final actions from the City’s Urban Forest Services Best Practices Study. Several years ago $1,500,000 was set aside to meet the study recommendations. As I understand it, the $650,000 funding can be broken down in the following way: $200,000 grant from a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; $200,000 mandated grant match; and the remaining $250,000 from the funds set aside for the implementation of the Best Practices Study.

This item was probably placed on consent due to the prior approval by the city council and no new monies from this year’s budget were needed.

At the Sacramento Tree Foundation we work hard to educate elected officials, business leaders and citizens on the remarkable benefits of our urban forest, which serves us everyday in the air we breath, the water we drink, and the energy we save. Generations of Sacramentans have worked hard and made investments in its urban forest to gain the worldwide reputation as the ‘city of trees’, second only to Paris, France.

So it looks like only $250,000 is coming from City of Sac coffers and the amount was previously set aside for this purpose.

Do y’all think this is the best way to spend a quarter mil?


  1. I agree with Mr. Tretheway on this one. I think that we talk about quality of life issues quite a bit, and I truly believe that parks/trees/nature-in-public increase quality of life. Especially since Sacramento has such an outstanding flora collection… we need to take care of one of the (some of the more frustrated among us would say “few”) things we have going for our city.

  2. I’m not sure how this improves ANYTHING in Sac?
    why not use the 250k to PLANT trees…not COUNT them.

  3. Anonymous says

    Sorry to hear all the unions whine about more money not going into their pocket,this project money is probably well spent. Ray T. has been on the wrong side of many issues, but this one I will give him, he is a tree expert, and more scientific info. is needed to protect the great urban forest we have, what is disappointing is the fact we are not properly managing the current trees we have, I have noticed in several parks many trees are dead or not staked properly, the utility division maintains several parks in Natomas Park, and they need to pay better attention to existing trees.

  4. Anonymous says

    I was able to receive 5 free trees to provide shade for my house and help reduce energy cost/consumption.

  5. Anonymous says

    Trees are great. In a down economy with crime rampant, we don’t need to count them. If we do decide to count them, why doesn’t the city have the juvenile criminals the police have caught recently do the counting as public service hours?

    This is city bureaucracy at its best. Tretheway, you are so out of touch with reality.

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