Local group counting every tree in San Diego

Tree mapping project could mean savings for many

SAN DIEGO - For those who know about trees, San Diego is considered a "hot spot" with more than 1,500 native species.

One local group is trying to count every last tree in the county, and their hard work may be saving everyone money."

Arborist Robin Rivet is one of many volunteers with one mission in mind -- mapping every tree in San Diego.

During a recent outing, Rivet studied a gnarled looking trunk with a hacksaw in hand.

"This is a cork oak tree," she said. "This is the same cork that's used to plug wine bottles, why wouldn't you want something so cool in your yard?"

Volunteers like Rivet want the public's help in counting San Diego’s trees. The results are then logged into www.SanDiegoTreeMap.org, a website that has been up for almost a year with more than 300,000 trees entered.

Rivet said that's only 10 percent of the trees in San Diego, but already the project is yielding results.

"Trees are so much more than just decorations on streets," said Rivet.

One of the most important findings of the mapping project has to do with trees and traffic. The map estimates trees in San Diego eliminated 24.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere last year.

Cal Fire has given around $60,000 in funds to the tree mapping project, with most of the money coming from Proposition 84.

Wildfires burn through San Diego's green spaces every year, and in the 1,007 fires that ravaged San Diego, Cal Fire estimates more than 286,000 acres were lost.

Kathleen Edwards of Cal Fire said having a record of what's there is crucial.

"When resources are lost during a wildfire, it's sometimes difficult to know exactly what we've lost," said Edwards.

Rivet hopes the map will change all of that and hopes this will get your attention -- urban trees reduce air conditioning and heating costs by acting as a sun and wind barrier. They also reduce water costs by reducing storm water runoff. In total, trees saved San Diegans $6.3 million last year.

Rivet said studying and counting trees isn't a passion everyone shares.

"Well, I'm very passionate about trees and there's no doubt that other people are not," said Rivet.

While many may not share Rivet's passion, the savings are something many non-tree lovers can get behind.

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