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300 Volunteers Plant Trees Along San Diego River As Part of Restoration Effort

Several hundred volunteers spent Monday morning planting trees as part of an effort to restore the Santee section of the San Diego River.

Video by Katie Schoolov

Several hundred volunteers spent the morning planting the future on this Martin Luther King Day. KPBS Business and Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says the restoration effort focused on the San Diego river in Santee.

Hundreds of San Diegans came together Monday to plant trees along the San Diego River in Santee.

About 300 people volunteered their time to plant the trees. Keith Wilson, president of the biotech company Takeda California, says planting the 2,000 trees is a bonding experience.

“There’s an immediate benefit of working together for three or four hours. All employees and families and friends, getting dirty. And that’s wonderful team building spirit," Wilson said. "When you put trees in the ground, you have a chance to impact the future.”

Wilson also said the trees will offset 20 times the amount of carbon impact his firm used in paper last year.

Biologist Mike Nieto said the trees will also have a real impact on the ground along the river.

“This used to be a lot where you would store gravel, but all this dirt is going to turn that into habitat,” Nieto said.

The new riparian habitat will feature tall cottonwood trees and majestic oaks. Nieto said the trees will also help filter the water flowing down the river.

“We’re really trying to mimic what would happen naturally, because really the river will do the work for us," Nieto said. "The water table is right there for the plants that like water.”

He also said not all of the trees planted Monday will survive, but if a third to two-thirds do live, the effort will be wildly successful.

The city of Santee is expected to add hiking and biking trails around the river as part of an interconnected park system along the San Diego River.

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