Manteca Rotary’s gift to Manteca in its centennial year is 100 trees.
The service club assisted city crews Monday to plant 22 of those trees at Southside Park in the neighborhood south of downtown and west of Wetmore Street.
The remaining 78 trees will be planted along the Tidewater Bikeway to provide even more shade along the 3.4-mile linear park.
Rotary President Nick Obligacion said when he heard of the city hoping to find organizations interested in helping mark the centennial with a tree for each year, he realized it was also a perfect fit with Rotary International President Ian H.S. Riseley’s goal of having the service club plant 1.2 million trees worldwide during his year in office. That’s one tree for each member of the international service organization.
“It actually comes to just over two trees per member (for our club),” Obligacion noted.
Manteca Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Fant said the effort of the Rotarians was appreciated.
He noted trees are an effective way of not just providing shade, cooling down temperatures, and generating oxygen but they also enhance the visual look of urbanized areas.
Fant pointed to the effort in 2009 by the “Taking it to the Streets” effort — Crossroads Grace Community’s forerunner to the annual Love Manteca effort — that helped the city not only plant 300 trees along the Moffat Boulevard leg of the Tidewater Bikeway but also maintained them for three years as well until they were established.
“They have really helped soften the industrial look of Moffat,” Fant said of the trees.
Prior to the tree planting the bike path segment had nothing but dirt flanking it just a stone’s throw from the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Today the trees help block the view of the tracks.
Early Manteca pioneers might be a bit startled at today’s landscape in Manteca.
A century ago, trees — ornamental and otherwise — were at a premium. Much of the area that is south of Yosemite Avenue today was a sandy plain where tumbleweeds were more likely to roll on a windy day than leaves fluttering in the breeze.
Manteca is no longer an inhospitable place for trees. The arrival of surface water through the formation 109 years ago of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District allowed for the cultivation of fields as well as the planting of orchards.
And perhaps nowhere in the SSJID service territory is the transformation from a sand blown plain as stark as it is in Manteca itself.
The city today has over 19,000 trees the city maintains that can be found along streets in municipal right-of-way, the city’s 70 plus parks and the municipal golf course. That’s 122 percent more trees than the 8,567 trees the city had in 1998. Manteca’s population has increased by less than 70 percent from 47,114 in 1998 to 78,000 today.
Manteca has been designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for 27 consecutive years.
The city is maintaining those trees with a three-man tree crew that is half the size it was in 2008 before Manteca was hit with budget cuts due to the Great Recession. The city today has 32 workers in the parks maintenance division that now also handle landscape mainetance district upkeep. In 2008 the workforce was at 53.
Fant said the fact the city has gone to requiring new developments to put neighborhood parks in landscape mainetance districts have helped somewhat. That means the bill for maintaining new neighborhood parks are on the dime of the residents that buy the homes and not the city’s general fund.
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