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SLO community members can help determine the future of the city’s urban forest

Rachel Showalter
You can fill out a survey to help guide the management of San Luis Obispo's urban forest.

There are more than 20,000 trees in San Luis Obispo’s urban forest. Now, the City is asking for help to determine how that forest will be cared for in the future.

The City is asking residents to fill out an online survey that will help guide the development of San Luis Obispo’s Urban Forest Master Plan. It will be designed to help manage, enhance and grow the community’s tree resources over the next 20 to 30 years.

Greg Cruce is the city’s Deputy Director of Maintenance Operations. He said the Urban Forest Program cares for the trees within the city throughout public parks and facilities.

Cruce said maintaining the city’s urban forest is important because it has a number of community benefits.

“It beautifies our city and it gives us the quality of life we’ve come to expect here in the city of San Luis Obispo and on the Central Coast,” Cruce said.” In addition to that, it reduces energy, purifies the air, provides shade and [there are] many environmental and quality of life issues that the urban forest and trees contribute to.”

Cruce said the Urban Forest Program has seen a lot of staff changeover recently through retirement. He said the city is using this transition moment to take an in-depth look at how the program is structured and how it could be improved to maintain and promote the future of the urban forest.

Cruce said community input is a crucial step in this process.

“We’re funded by taxpayers. Really we’re working for the people. We want to make sure the people are happy with the program structure and the way the program is being run,” Cruce said. “So we’re always looking for input. In this case, we’re doing a community survey just to make sure we’re on the right track.”

Cruce said a big part of the urban forest program over the next decade will be contributing to San Luis Obispo’s carbon neutrality goals. The city hopes to have its operations fully carbon-neutral by 2030, with community-wide carbon neutrality by 2035.

“The urban forest is gonna play a big role in that. One of those goals is to plant 10,000 trees and we don’t feel that we can do this alone,” Cruce said. “We’re gonna need input and support from the community to help us meet these goals.”

Cruce said private property owners can help the city achieve its 10,000-tree goal by planting trees of their own. Cruce said the city may consider incentivizing tree planting depending on survey responses.

The survey is open through October 21st. You can access the survey here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.