Rotary Plants Sycamore Trees for Earth Day

It’s apparently easy being green in San Marino.
In an early observance of Earth Day, the Rotary Club of San Marino completed its part of Rotary International’s quest to plant 1.2 million trees this year — one tree for every Rotarian. Although the local club had to outsource where most of its allotment was planted, it did end up planting two 12-foot Mexican sycamores in Lacy Park this year, both of which were formally commemorated last Thursday.
“It’s an international big deal,” Rotary President Denise Wadsworth said, referring to Earth Day and Rotary International’s directive. “There is no ‘Planet B.’ We have to be prepared for our children’s children.”
The Mexican sycamores were chosen in collaboration with the city’s Parks and Public Works Department, in part to replace Lacy Park’s declining sycamore population.
“We picked something the park lacked,” explained Samuel Estrada, a maintenance worker and arborist for the department. “All of our sycamores in the park right now are declining.”
That decline, Estrada said, was largely the result of the invasive polyphagous shot hole borer beetle, which have wreaked havoc on trees statewide.
“All of our mature sycamores are dying, so we’re trying to integrate different varieties,” Estrada said. “We’re picking an area that’s good for enhancement.”
That area, near the western entrance to Lacy Park, helps bridge the path from the Rose Arbor area into the park, and presently lacks trees as tall as sycamores grow.
“This will also provide a good canopy for the entrance,” said City Councilwoman Gretchen Shepherd Romey, who also is president of the San Marino Garden Club. “They’re really great for protecting that upper-level canopy so smaller trees can be protected.”
Len Therrien, community service chair for the local Rotary Club this year, said the club arranged for the other 124 trees to be planted through the National Forest Foundation, for all of $124.
“It’s amazing: a dollar a tree,” Therrien said. “It’s the greatest deal in the world, quite frankly. Everybody should be doing it.”
Therrien said Rotary International decided on the tree-planting drive after its current fiscal year started in July and aimed to have all 1.2 million trees planted by Earth Day this past weekend. The local club met with city officials in October to plan for the Mexican sycamores.
Down the road, Therrien said he hopes this would open doors to add more trees to Lacy Park, particularly as disease and old age take down its current mature trees.
“It really strikes a chord with our club that our city has a need for trees in Lacy Park, even though it looks like it’s full of trees right now,” he said. “It’s more than meets the eye. There is a need there and I’m hoping Rotary can make a bigger splash down the road in contributing to the tree health in Lacy Park.”

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