From 2016-17, CURes conducted a tree inventory, in association with Jack Sahl & Associates, of all the trees within the public domain of the City of Colton. This included trees in cemeteries, parks, schools, and major cross-streets throughout the city. Interdisciplinary student and staff teams gathered data on the size, distribution, age, health, and energy efficiency of over 8000 trees.
The City of Colton, which is part of the inland empire, is currently experiencing social and ecological challenges associated with climate change. Trees provide both short and long-term benefits that mitigate harmful climate impacts such as: improving air quality, reducing water runoff, improving water quality through filtration, lessoning the urban heat island effect, and improving energy efficiency. Urban trees also benefit societies and communities by promoting the use of outdoor spaces, which has been shown to reduce tensions and improve resident place attachment.
As a low-income and socially vulnerable city, the City of Colton has a greater need to understand its urban tree canopy. Trees increase the value of properties and reduce energy costs. It is estimated that the greenhouse gas storage capabilities of Colton’s tree canopy can be valued at $2,841,045. Across the Los Angeles area, there is a disparity between tree cover in high-income versus low-income areas. By conducting a tree inventory, the City of Colton can assess which neighborhoods within its limits are not being adequately served by urban trees and can thus more effectively focus planting efforts. Combating demographic differences associated with tree access may help eliminate or at least decrease access disparities.
Overall, the tree inventory aimed to address the 25-year time horizon emphasized in Colton’s master plan. The City also aims to ensure that the appropriate trees are being planted in various locations, so that future tree planting efforts better understand the physical conditions, species diversity, and tree maintenance requirements. Additionally, the City of Colton hopes to better engage the community through school outreach, resident organization, social media, and other initiatives. This multi-faceted approach will ensure that more residents are aware of the project and its impacts.
CURes anticipates expanding the scope of this tree work in the future through iTree technology and surveying methods. Better understanding urban tree canopy will be vital for addressing climate change impacts and resiliency in the future.