Description and review of a free Capitol Park Tree Tour given by the nonprofit Sacramento Tree Foundation.
It was a Thursday evening when a friend and I joined a group of approximately 20 people who had reserved a spot for the free Sacramento Tree Foundation tour of Capitol Park. The tour was scheduled from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Both of us had worked in the Capitol during our careers, but this was the first time we had taken a tour of the trees on the grounds.
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About the Sacramento Tree Foundation
The nonprofit Sacramento Tree Foundation was formed in 1982. The mission of the Foundation is stewardship of the Sacramento urban forest – “from seed to slab”. This includes harvesting acorns, propagating and planting new native oak trees and urban wood rescue to give fallen trees a second life.
The Foundation is probably best known to Sacramentans for its partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and its free tree program. Each SMUD customer is eligible for a free landscape assessment and up to 10 shade trees delivered to your home or business.
The website of the Foundation provides everything you need to know if you plan to plant a new tree(s) or want to learn how to care for the trees you already have. Check out the list of recommended trees for the Sacramento region before you plant!
Other programs of the Foundation include free trees for community spaces and monitoring of Sacramento’s elms with the help of volunteers.
Another Foundation project in the works that has me excited is the Hanami Line consisting of 103 ‘Pink Flair’ ornamental cherry trees at Robert T. Matsui Park. It is anticipated that the project will be completed in 2024.
About Capitol Park (in brief)
The Capitol Park grounds cover forty acres, or twelve city blocks. The park is home to species of plants from almost every part of the globe.
In 1860 the park consisted of a four-block area bounded by L, N, 10th and 12th Streets. Additional blocks were added over time until 1917, when it reached its current size. Capitol Park is between 9th and 15th Streets and L and N Streets.
Eight hundred trees and flowering shrubs were planted in the park, consisting of over two hundred native and exotic varieties.
The park is home to a number of large trees that are ranked as State Champions, National Champions and National Co-Champions. Ranking of trees is done using a point system utilizing the measurement of height, girth of trunk and width of canopy.
As of 9/1/2016 Capitol Park was home to 215 tree species.
Check out the California State Parks/State Capitol Museum Capitol Park Tree Guide for more information.
Capitol Park Tree Tour
Alex and Pam of the Sacramento Tree Foundation were our tree tour guides that evening. The weather was pleasant, but later I was glad to have taken a light jacket as it cooled off fast towards the end of the tour.
We had inquired about the frequency of Foundation tree tours. It turns out that the tours are offered from time to time, but not on a regular basis.
The pre-planned tour route was disrupted by the construction work currently underway at the State Capitol. At one point we had to walk across L Street and then cross it again to get to the other side of Capitol Park.
We strolled through the park, stopping to look at specific trees while learning a variety of interesting facts about the species. The two were also glad to answer the many questions posed by tour participants.
Alex suggested we check out the California Polytechnic State University Big Tree Registry to learn more about California’s largest trees. California has 208 Big Tree listings, 154 of which are National Champions.
The pair also pointed out a number of named trees. The Moon Tree (a Coast Redwood), for example, was grown from a seed that had orbited the moon aboard the command module of the Apollo 14 mission.
Many of the plantings have a story behind them. For example, the 9-11 Memorial includes three rose bushes in remembrance of the three crash sites.
As one might expect, Capitol Park has lost some very large/old trees over time to disease, etc. Depending on availability and funding, trees of the same species are replanted.
At the end of the tour, we expressed our thanks, very happy to have had the experience.
To Sum Up
I had walked through the Capitol grounds numerous times over the years, but developed a new appreciation as a result of the tour. I shall never walk through Capitol Park again without looking up to admire the majesty of its trees.
Comments on Capitol Park Tree Tour?
When was the last time you took your time to enjoy walking through Capitol Park?
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