A group of about 65 Fresno State students, staff and faculty gathered on Oct. 5 to celebrate California Clean Air Day by planting trees. 

Among the volunteers was Chris Fiorentino, director of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Tree planting of only students“Here’s a project that benefits the whole community, specifically the Fresno State community,” Fiorentino said. “It’s good to see people getting involved in in-person service again, especially so many students.”

The planting was the first of two scheduled for both sides of Chestnut Avenue between Bullard and Barstow avenues and consisted of 65 Natchez White crape myrtles. A second planting of 60 trees is scheduled for November. The large-canopy, drought-tolerant trees, which blossom white flowers, will provide a beautiful entrance for visitors to the campus traveling south on Chestnut approaching Barstow, according to Mona Cummings, CEO of Tree Fresno.

“It creates an entry into Fresno State that is special, because trees create an environmental welcome,” Cummings said.

The tree plantings are part of a larger vision that Fresno State has for creating a “greenscape” throughout campus, Cummings added.

“We’re planting both beautiful and usable landscaping that showcases everything the campus has to offer and creates a Fresno State feel,” she said.

Mike Mosinski, senior special projects manager for Facilities Management at Fresno State, said the crape myrtles are the smallest of the large-canopy trees, a strategic choice to avoid infringing on overhead power lines, which the former trees along Chestnut were doing.

The new crape myrtles replace the camphor and eucalyptus trees that once lined Chestnut but were failing to thrive and were removed during a road-widening project, Mosinski said.

Now, there will be a uniformly beautiful entry – an allée, Mosinski said – as all the trees on the east and west sides will be the same variety. The Natchez White variety blooms in the summer and fall.

“That was our thought,” he said. “By having the crape myrtles line both sides of the street, it’s aesthetically pleasing.” 

Cummings said Tree Fresno has planted 330 trees on the Fresno State campus in the past four years, and will plant over 200 more during the next twoyears. 

Most of those will go in the ground in spring 2023 along the Willow Avenue multipurpose trail from Barstow to Escalon, Mosinski said.  

“That’s a much larger project with larger variety trees,” he said.

There will be about 190 trees in that spring 2023 planting and will fulfill the final phase of the California Climate Investments grant project provided through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Urban and Community Forestry program.

Tree Fresno has been in operation since 1985 and has planted over 50,000 trees throughout the San Joaquin Valley. For more information about Tree Fresno or to volunteer, visit https://treefresno.org/.