Elizabeth Allen (from left), Athena Lynch and Yesenia Jimenez team up to plant one of several trees in Pajaro Village in Watsonville. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Watsonville Wetlands Watch was recently awarded a $3.275 million federal grant to boost its tree planting and education programs.

Its project, called Growing Tree Canopy, Climate Resilience and Green Jobs Pathways in the Pajaro Valley (PV Trees), will build upon its established urban forestry program to increase tree plantings in schools, parks, yards, neighborhoods and commercial properties; provide job training, certification and green career pathways for local youth and adults; support a tree inventory of the Pajaro Valley; and develop tree planting and green infrastructure projects in the City of Watsonville and community of Pajaro.

This five-year, Urban and Community Forestry grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service grant will provide funds to expand the Watsonville Community Forest program, a partnership between Watsonville Wetlands Watch and the City of Watsonville to increase tree canopy cover on streets, schools, parks and neighborhoods in Watsonville.  

At just more than 9%, the City of Watsonville has significantly lower tree canopy cover than any city in Santa Cruz County, according to Watsonville Wetlands Watch. Since the program began in 2018 with the goal of reaching a 30% canopy cover, Watsonville Wetlands Watch has planted and established more than 1,700 trees on streets, schools, parks and neighborhoods within the Pajaro Valley.

“Increasing tree canopy cover is one of the most powerful and transformative tools that we have to create a healthier environment and community and a Pajaro Valley that is resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Jonathan Pilch, executive director of Watsonville Wetlands Watch. “This funding will enable us to significantly scale up our work to expand access to shade, green spaces, and clean air and water, while strengthening our jobs training programs to aid in the long-term sustainability of this work.”

Working alongside Watsonville Wetlands Watch staff and job trainees recruited by project partners such as Community Action Board will be high school students enrolled in Watsonville Wetlands Watch’s Climate Corps Leadership Institute, a paid job training program where students learn about environmental careers such as urban forestry and watershed restoration and design and implement their own local climate action projects. 

With the new funding, a young adult training program for ages 18-24 will be added to the job training programs offered.

For information, visit watsonvillecommunityforest.org.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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