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Volunteers needed to plant trees on Saturday

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Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:52 am, Thu Feb 9, 2012.

Want to help plant a tree in a Lodi park? Tree Lodi, a local nonprofit, and the city are looking for volunteers to come help this Saturday with the first of two plantings at DeBenedetti Park at Lower Sacramento Road and Century Boulevard.

The goal is to plant 170 trees throughout the new park. Because of the large number of volunteers, the city plans to shut down Century Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide parking for those wanting to help plant.

Volunteers will actually be planting trees from 9 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. The planting will be followed by a barbecue lunch and a group picture, Parks Superintendent Steve Dutra said.

"The goal is to put the trees in safely and appropriately. Hopefully, everyone enjoys themselves and learns how to put a tree in properly," he said.

Tree Lodi raised $18,000 to plant the trees at the park. As part of the nonprofit's agreement with the city, Tree Lodi will also maintain them for three years.

The city and Tree Lodi also plan to hold another event on Arbor Day, which is April 7, to plant the rest of the trees. In total, volunteers will plant 280 trees at DeBenedetti.

Interested volunteers can show up Saturday morning. They will be greeted by an organizer, who will direct them to the registration booth where they will be asked to sign a waiver. All helpers will be covered by the city's worker's compensation volunteer program in case of an accident. The volunteers will then be assigned to an area to plant trees.

The city is using DeBenedetti as a laboratory to see how well a variety of trees grow in Lodi's climate, Dutra said. The city and Tree Lodi selected trees that live a long time and are low-maintenance, he said.

"We also want a variety of trees so there is not a monoculture, so if there is a disease, it won't wipe out all the trees," Dutra said.

On Arbor Day, volunteers will plant an even greater variety of trees, such as oaks from all over the world, including Turkey, Portugal and Italy.

The event will have a First Aid station and an educational booth on how to plant and care for young trees. There will also be a Boy Scout troop showcasing examples of owl boxes that they are building for Lodi parks.

Dutra said he wanted to start the owl box program to deal with gophers that chew up the grass.

"It's a way of showing the community that we look at all angles to maintain the city parks," Dutra said.

There will be maps throughout the park to direct people, and a sponsorship board thanking all of the big donors. On the back of that board, volunteers will be able to sign their name.

When the park is eventually fully completed, there will be about 600 trees.

Dutra plans to have a place for volunteers to sign each time there is a planting, and he plans to keep the boards to display at future events.

Because Tree Lodi is providing maintenance for three years, Dutra said they are not only requesting that the public come help at the event, but also that they report any problems they see with the trees while visiting the park.

In general, arborists expect to lose 10 to 15 percent of any tree planting because there are poor specimens, some don't get watered properly or they are vandalized.

For more information, contact the Parks Department at 209-333-6742 or call Tree Lodi at 209-334-6668. For more information on volunteering or to donate a tree, visit www.treelodi.org.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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