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Long Beach digs trees

Danielle Carson, Assistant Diversions Editor

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As the second-busiest seaport in the United States, the Port of Long Beach imports and exports goods from around the world, all the while, pumping out tons of greenhouse gases.

Now the port is working with the City of Long Beach to counter this environmental harm – by planting trees.

Through its Green Port Policy, the port helped launch a project with the city on Saturday, aiming to clean and beautify Southwest Long Beach by planting 6,000 trees within the next seven years. The city’s “I Dig Long Beach: 6,000 Trees by 2020” campaign was funded by a $691,000 grant from the Port of Long Beach, according to a City of Long Beach press release.

“[The grant programs] provide air pollution reductions or protections when we’ve exhausted available technologies on our marine terminal redevelopment projects to cut the significant impacts,” Christine Houston, the port’s project manager for the grant program, said via email.

The Port of Long Beach is the only port with a program like the Green Port Policy, Houston said. The program works to protect the community and lead the charge in environmental sustainability.

According to Houston, project members from the port conducted extensive research to find trees that are best suited for Long Beach’s climate and to absorb carbon dioxide. The trees they found include sweetshade, crape myrtle and jacaranda.

Angela Reynolds, deputy director of Long Beach development services, will help to oversee the project. She said the City of Long Beach’s staff has experience in tree planting due to past projects, but this is the biggest planting project yet.

Reynolds said a majority of the trees will be lining streets and dotting neighborhoods in Southwest Long Beach, in Long Beach Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8, where the air quality is most negatively impacted.

Some Cal State Long Beach students said it was reasonable that the Port of Long Beach plants trees within the city.

“Since they are the ones that are most negatively affecting the environment, it’s only fair that they try to cancel out the negative effects,” Estephanie Jane Arcilla, a junior health care administration major, said.

Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Long Beach Larry Rich said that the creation of “more pedestrian-friendly streetscapes” is one motivation for planting the trees within “new design paradigm for the streets.”

Rich said that the new tree canopy would help to cool areas affected by the “urban heat island effect,” as well as add to the aesthetics of a neighborhood.

“Cities are hotter than the surrounding undeveloped area … shade from trees reduces the general heating effect of a city,” Rich said.

“I Dig Long Beach” aims to strengthen and inform communities, as well as mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases, Rich said.

“There will be a lot of door-to-door efforts and coordination with community associations,” Rich said. “The people planting are meant to be from the neighborhoods in which the trees will be planted.”

The neighborhood services bureau will work with groups to identify community planting days, as well as informing the community about the importance of the trees so that they are able and willing to maintain them.

“Although the project does have a specific goal of 6,000 trees, there’s no end to the amount of trees that we could be planting,” Rich said. “We will be constantly looking for new opportunities and places to plant.”

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