By Delle Willett | Uptown News

When landscape architect Tomas Herrera-Mishler came to San Diego four years ago to be CEO and president of the newly formed Balboa Park Conservancy, he was astounded that the park didn’t have an updated tree inventory.

The last one was done by hand 20 years ago, taking seven years to do. Not having any of the technology that we have now, it was shelved, and the information was never updated, attributable to a lack of manpower in the city of San Diego’s Parks & Recreation Department.

Shortly after Herrera-Mishler arrived, with the help of a steering committee of industry experts, key stakeholders, and Parks & Rec staff, funding was identified to update the inventory, resulting in the hiring of Davey Natural Resources Company.

We all know Balboa Park as a place with museums, restaurants and gardens. But it’s really more than that. It’s San Diego’s arboretum, an urban forest with immense, widespread influence. Its diversity of tree species helps filter air and water, control storm water, conserve energy, and provide animal habitat and shade. And by reducing noise and providing places to recreate, it strengthens social cohesion, spurs community revitalization, and adds economic value to our communities.

Also, it is helping realize the San Diego Climate Action Plan, which has a lofty goal of 15% tree canopy by 2020 and 35% by 2035 for the whole city. (Balboa Park is at 30% but the city as a whole is at 5-6%.)

Using the data collected from the inventory, the objective is to develop and implement a management and reforestation plan for Balboa Park that includes replanting trees on an annual basis; increasing species diversity; experimenting with new plant introductions; propagating trees of historic and horticultural value; conserving unusual, rare and endangered trees; removing hazardous trees; maintaining and protecting trees; and interpreting park horticulture.

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