January 21, 2018 · Sacramento · (No comments)

To most of the world Sacramento is the home of the Kings basketball franchise and a jumping off point to the gold mines that caused one of the largest migrations in the history of the US. A place to see the ruins of the wild, wild west. An airline hub that also happens to house the state capital building.

In more recent history Sacramentans have noticed an influx of tech workers fleeing high rents and looking for a more relaxed neighborhood. They have welcomed the boost to the local economy and dismayed at the rising property prices. Every month or so there’s a news story about the changing demographic in one of her suburbs. Suburbs that are beginning to sprawl. And then came the movie.

Film director Greta Gerwig grew up on Sacramento. Swimming in backyard pools and riding bikes on tree lined boulevards. Gerwig’s latest film, “Lady Bird”, a family dramady that has steadily gained momentum in theaters, is set in Sacramento. Most reviews of “Lady Bird” include glowing compliments of Sacramento’s quiet attractiveness. The shocking blue of the family pool lives quietly next to a busy, modern downtown. Throw in a bit of the grit that comes with being a larger city and you a compelling back drop. Articles are popping up all over praising the Golden Globe winning movie and they never fail to mention the the scenery and its distinctly Californian flavor. Entertainment and travel media are posting “What to See in Sacramento” lists. Maps to shooting locations for the film are also showing up.

Fist the the tech industry starts leaking refugees into the local population and now a Hollywood moment? With all this attention Sacramentans may need to order more of the cow bells their sports fans are known for.

Urban forests have garnered more and more interest as their value is better understood. Aesthetically pleasing, city trees also reduce the heat island effect, improve air quality and can help conserve energy. Few cities have prioritized their trees as much as Sacramento. With 23.6% of tree cover, Sacramento has nearly triple the tree cover of Paris. A worldwide, 20-city comparison made by MIT in association with the World Economic Forum placed Sacramento as the second greenest city, behind only Vancouver. The interactive website,  Treepedia, showcases the results of the study.


Sacramento is rightfully proud of the 100,000 trees in its inventory. Even with the recent drought, the city’s tree mortality rate is just 0.5%. The typical mortality rate in a natural forest is 2%. Remarkably, the city owned and maintained trees in parks and right-of-ways represent just 20% of Sacramento’s total trees. The other 80% are on private property. The health of these trees is not monitored or documented but may be in the future. Sacramento is planning to update its Urban Forest Master Plan. Privately owned trees and potential environmental threats are two topics that are likely to be included in the new plan.


The biggest threat to Sacramento’s trees is a tiny beetle that has already ravaged forests in Southern California. The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer infects host trees with a devastating fungus. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that this single parasite could kill 38% of the trees in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer is particularly dangerous because it infects many different species of trees. The pest has not been found in the Sacramento area yet but the city has ramped up monitoring efforts. With the success of their urban forest program, there is little doubt that Sacramento will be proactive with the health of their trees.