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Urban Jungle

09/30/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

The considerable sprawling of Roseville must be mind-blowing to those who remember the community’s agrarian beginnings, which, believe it or not, wasn’t that long ago. Although quieter days have long since passed thanks to industry and migratory families seeking a better quality of life, the spirit of greener pastures is being kept alive, thanks in large part to the efforts of concerned organizations like the Roseville Urban Forest Foundation (RUFF). Founded in 1995, the mission of RUFF – a local nonprofit “comprised of local citizens, business professionals, corporate partners, business owners, city representatives, and tree professionals” – is to propagate urban forestry in Roseville and surrounding communities.

Although it may be difficult for some local residents to see the forest for the trees, Roseville is a hotbed of public and private green spaces. In addition to the aesthetic benefits they provide and the social activity they invite, urban forestry serves a variety of practical purposes. According to Lani Houck, program manager of RUFF, “studies by the USDA Center for Urban Forest Research in Davis show that properly placed trees can save 25 to 40 percent of the energy needed to cool buildings.” This natural after-effect dramatically reduces the demand for electric utilities, which requires less reliance on power plants, thereby helping control energy costs associated with their operation. Trees also improve air quality by absorbing harmful pollutants, soak up rainwater so that it infiltrates soil rather than storm drains, and create a community rich with attractive (and sellable) residential and commercial properties.

Houck, together with Amelia Oliver, RUFF’s director, administer the organization’s programs. RUFF’s main focus is Roseville Electric’s Shade Tree Program (Roseville Electric provides program funding through public benefit funds), which provides trees to residential and non-residential property owners. It also collaborates with the City of Roseville on other projects such as oak reforestation for designated open spaces, educational outreach and various public plantings. Thanks to funding from Roseville Electric in the form of memberships, grants, and in-kind contributions of technical expertise, RUFF has administered and overseen the planting of more than 14,000 area trees through the Shade Tree Program, and 60 for the City’s Atlantic Street Gateway project. That’s to say nothing about alerting and educating thousands about the benefits of trees, and generating the interest and cooperation of corporate giants like REI.

With a leap in growth and popularity, RUFF recently hired an arborist to manage the care and policies of the City’s trees, which, according to Houck, “have the potential to save a huge amount of energy; up to 14,000,000 kilowatt hours over their lifetimes. That’s really ‘green’. I love to see the trees that [RUFF] has provided, growing and thriving as I go about town.” With such success, it is not an exaggeration to say that because a few citizens had the good sense to go out on a limb, Roseville and its neighbors will have roots for generations to come.

For more information on RUFF or Roseville Electric’s Shade Tree Program, visit rosevilletrees.org and/or roseville.ca.us/shadetree.

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