CAL FIRE Grant to Enhance UC Riverside’s Urban Forest

As many as 300 trees to be added to the campus in the coming months

Watkins Oak

The prestigious Watkins Oak, planted in recognition the university’s first provost, Gordon Watkins, will soon be joined by another 300 trees across the campus thanks to the Green Trees for the Golden State Grant Program. Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Things will be looking a bit greener around the University of California, Riverside in the coming months as up to 300 new trees will be added to the campus’ urban forest thanks to a grant from the Green Trees for the Golden State Grant Program.

Administered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire (CAL FIRE), the grant program underwrites and promotes the planting of trees that will thrive and serve as a long-term benefit to the region. The program helps the state meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, as well as improving the environment and ecosystem.

“The grant has given us a way to help add trees to areas where we have had damage or failures due to construction or other environmental factors,” explained Toshio Ishida, assistant director of grounds for UCR Physical Plant. “This allows us to focus our other resources on additional things we see needing to be done, but didn’t previously have funding for.”


The plaque for the Watkins Oak. Photo by Ross French

The university received a total of $60,000 from CAL FIRE, then contributed a total of $33,200 towards supplies and grounds staff labor.

So far the grant has financed the planting of 33 trees, including those used in the recent makeover of Picnic Hill, where several invasive species trees were replaced with oaks, redbud, jacaranda, brachychiton and Chinese pistache. “We didn’t have to fund all of the tree replacement work, giving us more resources to spend on the rest of the planting,” he said.

Raymond Bolles, senior grounds supervisor said that sites for an additional 260 trees had been identified and that the work to add them is ongoing.

“We recently completed the Blaine/Watkins street scape renovation adding 13 trees, and we will be planting 15 trees adjacent to Lot 29 at the Child Development Center to compliment the street scape renovation,” he said. “Several trees are scheduled to be planted at the ‘Beautification with the Chancellor’ project located north of Boyce Hall during Community Week in mid-May.”


This sign near the Arts Building includes the details of the Urban Forestry and Urban Greening Grant programs. Photo by Ross French

Bolles said the grant application was built upon UCR’s 2012 Urban Forest Management Plan. The plan contains a complete inventory of the trees across campus and provides guidelines on the preservation and protection of the campus’ tree heritage, the improvement of UCR’s urban forest canopy coverage and ensuring adequate species diversity and size class distribution.

“Our stewardship of UCR’s urban forest involves more than simply replacing one tree with another,” Bolles said. “It includes a variety of long-term goals, strategies and priorities that address the tree canopy in a comprehensive, systematic manner.”

Ken Mueller, director of the UCR Physical Plant, was complimentary of Bolles and Ishida’s work in both securing the grant and maintaining the campus’ urban forest.

“Ray and Tos are to be commended on their work that has quantified the campus’ shrinking tree inventory. They have begun the process of restoring trees that have been lost over the years for various reasons,” Mueller said.

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