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Beating the heat with trees; Vista park gets more trees planted

Tree shade has proven to help reduce hot temperatures, but many neighborhoods in San Diego have a noticeable shortage of trees.

That changed on Wednesday for one neighborhood in Vista. Raintree Park hosted a community tree planting event.

Funding for the new trees came from a $1.253 million Cal Fire grant. The agency's Urban and Community Forestry’s Urban Forest Expansion and Improvement program plans to plant 2,000 trees throughout San Diego County, including 200 trees throughout the city of Vista.

“We’re trying to increase the tree canopy in disadvantaged communities," said Lynette Short, the Urban Forest supervisor for Southern California's Cal Fire’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. "Parks like these, who lack a little bit of shade, those are high priority areas for trees to go in."

Urban Corps of San Diego County was awarded the grant, and its members assisted with the planting.

“As a conservation corps, we know the value of trees in a community,” said Kyle Kennedy, CEO of Urban Corps of San Diego County. “Not only do they provide beauty, but they provide shade to keep areas cool. With the record heat that we have had, adding more trees to a community is a huge benefit.”

"This area in Vista desperately needs trees," Vista City Councilmember Corinna Contreras said. "We're going through a heat wave, moving forward, it's only gonna get hotter, and what trees do, not only do they provide a beautiful scene for everybody to enjoy, but they provide shade." 

While it will be some time before the trees planted Wednesday will provide more shade, Contreras said they will help the urban neighborhood have more green space to enjoy.

"Everywhere in the city, there’s pavement, concrete, asphalt, very few impervious surfaces — that heat radiates up. When it's 100 degrees and we have no trees, it actually feels hotter," she said. "So being able to plant more trees where people congregate and enjoy the park under the shade is extremely important."

She hopes this is only the beginning because more trees are needed in the city, especially near public transportation stations.

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to complete a statewide plan to increase tree canopy cover in urban areas by 10%.

The department has until 2025 to submit a plan to the Legislature.

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