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City asks residents to adopt trees: Burlingame program aims to target neglected new plants
April 08, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Burlingame citizens are trying to help it live up to its name “the city of trees” through their new Adopt-a-Tree program.

The Citizens Environmental Council-Burlingame, or CEC, and the city of Burlingame launched the new Adopt-a-Tree program on Arbor Day, March 7 to help ensure the health of the 300 trees that are planted in the city each year.

“It’s a great way to get the community involved,” said Kathy Meriwether, director of the CEC-Burlingame. “It’s a real simple little thing that makes a long-term difference in the environment.”

Young trees need regular watering during their formative years and volunteers can help by watering a tree during its first two years during dry months — with five gallons of water each week.

The idea came about when Meriwether, who spearheaded the effort, discussed with the city about how to work together on programs.

“Trees are important to me,” she said. “They clean the air and the city mentioned with drought conditions some of the young trees might not make it.”

In an ongoing effort to increase the urban canopy, the city’s Park Division crews spend a significant of time watering newly planted trees to ensure their survival, said Bob Disco, park supervisor and city arborist.

“Many of the trees the volunteers are watering are in the commercial areas in Burlingame where they are often neglected,” Disco said. “Having the volunteers take on this commitment for two years frees staff to perform their routine tree maintenance on our 15,000 city street trees.”

The rest of Burlingame cares about trees too. Burlingame has the longest running “city of trees” designation in Northern California.

“It’s important because we have a lot of newly planted of tress that die because they don’t get watered on a regular basis,” said Vice Mayor Terry Nagel. “We’ve been a tree city for several decades, so people care very passionately about trees in Burlingame. It’s like having a baby-sitter for new trees to make sure well tended until they’re strong enough to survive.”

There are several positive aspects to having more trees in Burlingame, the city says.

Absorbing pollutants is one, while another is reducing erosion, controlling storm water runoff and lowering temperatures by transpiring water and shading surfaces. It also says it helps reduce stress levels and improve mental health.

“Given that we live between two major highways, we need to do everything we can to clean our air and make our community a better place to live,” Meriwether said. “It (a tree) actually takes particulate matter out of the air. Trees are one thing as citizens we can leave as a legacy behind when we’re long gone.”

There are 20 trees on the adoption list and so far two have been adopted. To sign up to adopt a tree, visit To learn more about the program, visit To report needy trees or to ask questions about the program, email

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: trees, burlingame, about, watering, their, program,

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