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Urban forest gets local friends

The plum trees are blooming in Alta Plaza Park.

Friends of the Urban Forest will mark a major milestone in the neighborhood on Saturday, February 20: For the 1000th time, a team of volunteers will plant trees on city streets.

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill will address the volunteers when they gather at 9 a.m. at Rosa Parks Elementary School at 1501 O’Farrell Street, between Webster and Laguna. Hill famously lived in a Humboldt County redwood tree for two years to prevent a lumber company from cutting it down.

Approximately 85 trees will be planted this weekend. Nearly a third will go to Rosa Parks School, which won a “green makeover” contest among San Francisco public schools. Most of the trees going to the school are native to California, including California buckeyes, coast silktassels and western redbuds.

“Our families and community members raised close to $5,000 for this planting, which is impressive in this tough economy,” said Barb Fujimoto, who heads the school’s volunteer Green Team and helped organize the event. Kaiser Permanente provided funding for the event. “By planting these trees with help from Friends of the Urban Forest and Kaiser, we’re realizing our dream of giving our students and our community a place of beauty and shade.”

Fujimoto’s daughter Marisa, age 10, is a fourth grader at the school.

After a brief training, volunteers will spend the morning planting trees at the school and at more than two dozen other sites in the Western Addition, rain or shine. They’ll return to the school afterwards for a pot luck lunch and a ceremony that includes a Native American dance performance.

“Our thousandth planting was made possible by the vision, hard work and generous donations of thousands of San Franciscans over the past 29 years,” said FUF executive director Dan Flanagan. “Thanks to the trees they’ve planted, San Francisco is a greener, healthier and more beautiful place.”


8:00 a.m. Trees are delivered to the planting sites, including Rosa Parks Elementary School

9:00 a.m. Tree planting volunteers arrive at Rosa Parks Elementary School

9:15 a.m. Julia Butterfly Hill will speak after being introduced by FUF executive director Dan Flanagan. Location: Rosa Parks Elementary School, upper courtyard (if fair weather) or auditorium (if rain).

9:30 a.m. FUF staff train tree planting volunteers.

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Volunteers plant trees at various sites in the Western Addition, including Rosa Parks Elementary School

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Pot luck lunch in Rosa Parks Elementary School cafeteria

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Speeches followed by Native American dance performance.