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L.A. ‘Releafing’ Task Also Serves as a Tribute to King

Times Staff Writer

Marking Arbor Day a day late, the mayor of Los Angeles and the state attorney general joined the TreePeople and the Crenshaw Neighbors on Saturday in planting pine trees to honor the late Martin Luther King Jr. and to begin “releafing” California with 20 million trees by the year 2000.

Mayor Tom Bradley and Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp shoveled dirt and gravel around a tree placed at 3338 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., where Agnes Wilson has lived almost 30 years.

“It’s a nice idea,” Wilson said of Crenshaw Neighbors’ plans to plant seven miles of King Boulevard as a living memorial to the slain civil rights leader. Nearby, volunteers already had started planting trees on both sides of the street.

Other Benefits

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“It’s better to plant a single tree than curse the concrete,” observed Van de Kamp. Also, the attorney general said planting trees is a simple step to help counteract the greenhouse effect, the excessive warming of the earth caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Bradley said the tree-planting effort along King Boulevard is part of a larger proposal to establish a “major urban forest” by planting two to five million trees in Los Angeles to help reduce air pollution and cut power usage.

The mayor invited the TreePeople, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, last fall to help devise a planting program, financed by a network of sponsors to provide funds, supplies and services. He noted that the Southern California Gas Co. had donated $25,000 and Hiuka America Corp. $35,000 to help the TreePeople get started.

A Fitting Symbol

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Andy Lipkis, founder and president of TreePeople, observed that planting Canary Island Pine trees seems particularly appropriate to honoring King because the species resists drought, renews itself after a fire and grows to great height.

Lipkis glanced over his shoulder at giant specimens of the tree growing on Denker Avenue, around the corner from King Boulevard. “This street (King) can be an incredible monument to an incredible man,” Lipkis said.

It is time, Lipkis said, for people to start healing the world, and one way to do that is the current “California ReLeaf” campaign, a decade-long effort by seven tree-planting organizations, coordinated by the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land.

The plantings along King Boulevard on Saturday were part of a simultaneous effort to plant trees in seven California cities. Besides Los Angeles, trees were planted in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Fresno, San Diego, Sacramento and San Jose.


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