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Advocacy Alert: Speak up for the trees of Capitol Park

by Stephanie Robinson

May 11, 2020

California's plans to renovate the East Annex of the Capitol and incorporate an underground parking garage and visitor center could lead to the removal or disturbance of dozens of unique and historic trees at Capitol Park.

These trees are an irreplaceable historical and cultural resource, not just for Sacramento but for the entire state. Sacramento residents and visitors marvel at this iconic park and arboretum with the most notable collection of trees in the region. Some of these trees are champions, many are unique specimens, and others are commemorative trees that mark both joyous and solemn events in our state’s history.

These trees are cornerstones of daily life for hundreds of people who rely on their shade, beauty, and health benefits. Their lush green canopies provide a much-needed urban oasis for the downtown worker who takes a stroll to decompress during the work day, for the schoolchildren who play and eat lunch during a field trip, or for the locals who take advantage of the park for their morning jogs. This site and the trees on it are part of our identity - they are the signature of Sacramento.

Downtown will be forever changed by the loss of these trees. The planned underground structures will not allow for replanting of large trees to replace the lost canopy. Even with tree replacements in other locations, the environmental and health benefits these mature trees provide will take generations to recoup.

Every tree makes a difference in mitigating the urban heat island effect, poor air quality, and the effects of climate change. They also profoundly improve our physical and mental health along with providing habitat, stormwater filtration, and myriad other benefits. We cannot afford to lose our large mature trees, especially not ones as famous and significant as the trees of Capitol Park.

How you can help

Check out this article and watch the above video to familiarize yourself with the plans and issues, then write the governor and your state legislators to ask for protections for these trees.

Sample Letter

To whom it may concern: 

As your constituent, I am writing to express my opposition to the removal and disturbance of historic trees from Capitol Park for the Capitol Annex Project and construction of an underground parking garage and visitor center.

These trees are especially important to our state's history and our region's quality of life. Some are nearly 150 years old, some are ten stories tall, and others are unique specimens from all over the world. These heritage trees are a big part of our identity as Sacramentans and Californians, and we cannot afford to lose the health and environmental benefits they provide.

I hope that you will work to halt the current project and ask for a plan that will not have this negative impact on this precious public resource.

Thank you for your consideration of this issue. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,  

[Your Name] 

[Your Address]