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Planting Trees In San Diego On Martin Luther King Day

Evening Edition

Above: Martin Luther King Day is a day of service for many around the nation. People fix up neighborhoods, help those less fortunate, and about 300 people in San Diego County planted trees. KPBS Business and Environment reporter Erik Anderson takes us to the land where the volunteers planted more than 500 trees.

— Martin Luther King Day is a day of service for many around the nation. People fix up neighborhoods, help those less fortunate, and about 300 people in San Diego County planted trees.

"One tree is a huge impact, a thousand trees is a thousand times the impact," said Richard Dhu of the San Diego River Park Foundation. He helped guide the tree planting effort in this twisting East County creek bed.

About 150 people spent the morning delivering foot high saplings to their new homes. Workers for the Pharmaceutical company Takeda California, and their families, are planting trees here and the San Dieguito River Valley.

Keith Wilson, Takeda California President and Chief Science Officer

"Finding a willing partner, or in this case pair of partners, to receive a thousand trees is not so easy," said Keith Wilson, President and Chief

Science Officer of Takeda California. "We did a lot of phone calling around to look for organizations that had the space and the support to do all the logistics, in some cases digging holes, clearing out brush, and so forth."

Wilson hoped to reduce the firm's carbon footprint, by planting enough trees to balance the amount of paper the company used last year. Takeda workers spend their time on the Torrey Pine Mesa developing drugs to fight afflictions like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Wilson said they work with things they can't see, and that gives this project, extra meaning.

"Here at the end of the day. We can see that, we can accomplish something and measure something towards making the world better, just in four hours of working hard together," said Wilson.

Just north of Alpine, volunteers are planting 1,000 trees in the Puetz Creek Valley.

"Today we planted five different species of trees," said Richard Dhu. "Some of them grow five to eight feet a year. Some of them like oaks are very slow growing. The mighty oak is slow growing and that could take longer than our lifetime to grow to be of the size of where it can provide a canopy."

A healthy tree canopy helps a lot of other life thrive in this rugged creek bed.

"It starts with the bugs, goes to the birds, moves on up to larger mammals, lizards and things like that. They're all supported by the trees and the vegetation in this habitat," said Dhu.

Martin Luther King Day also brought out people to help at the San Diego Food Bank, others cleaned up litter in Paradise Park and a local radio station put together a blood drive in Balboa Park.

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