2,030 trees by 2030: Return of the Natives get planting

Return of the Natives (RON), an environmental non-profit located on California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) campus, held a tree planting event on Jan. 29. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., students and community members planted oak trees in the stretch of land behind the Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library.

A separate tree planting at the Marina Dunes Preserve took place at the same date and time. Both locations, along with Fort Ord National Monument, are where RON have been working towards their goal of planting 2,030 native trees by the year 2030. 

On adopting the project, RON greenhouse and restoration manager Christina McKnew said “the sustainability folks at CSUMB had this spark of an idea, and they came to us and asked if we wanted to be involved.” The organization is hoping to have at least 200 trees planted by the end of this school year.

McKnew kicked off the event by demonstrating the full planting process. Dead trees from a previous planting event were dug out and replaced with 15-gallon oak trees, which are native to Monterey. Volunteers worked in small groups as an acoustic band, which included environmental science professor Fred Watson, played music. Snacks and gardening supplies, such as shovels and gloves, were provided.

“We’ve got very good entertainment, excellent instruction, and good guidance,” said fourth-year Jared Leary. “Everyone has a common goal to do the best we can.” 

The tree planting is just one of RON’s many local efforts to restore Monterey County’s natural environment. Other restoration projects include river and creek cleaning, youth field trips, and school programs on ecological habitats. In the past, RON has spearheaded several habitat restoration projects on campus, especially where endangered plant species tend to grow. 

“We want our campus to show what’s around the area, bring native [plant species] back, and bring more greenery … this is what we want to be surrounded by,” said fourth-year RON student assistant Elizabeth Rivera. 

The tree plantings will continue to be held on Saturdays over the course of the Spring semester. The next planting will take place at Fort Ord National Monument on Feb. 5th. Volunteers and program members are hoping to see greater student involvement at future restoration events.

“I think [this event is] great, but seeing the outcome of today, I definitely feel like more people on campus need to come out and be part of this because not many people know about it,” said fourth-year Danijela Jozinivoc. “Everybody should be involved in it. Not just people who are science majors, but all the students in the whole community.”

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