And, apparently, weather and wildfires are to blame. Jack Smith is the nursery manager with the LA-based environmental non-profit, TreePeople. Smith says the continual extreme temperatures of 95 degrees and above not only impacts the lifespan of trees and other foliage, it also affects the health of humans. Smith says according to the Centers for Disease Control more people die from extreme heat than all other natural disasters combined.
So, the answer? Trees! Smith says trees are nature’s air conditioner and the LA area desperately needs more of them. He says cooling cities can save lives.
TreePeople was started in 1973 by 18-year-old Andy Lipkis – a teen who believed in bringing people together to make cities sustainable and resilient while mitigating floods, drought, pollution, extreme heat, and climate change.
The organization plays a key role in the replanting of trees following the aftermath of a wildfire. Smith says they monitor fires in real-time and research the indigenous plants of the area, then decide how to replace the damaged or destroyed plant life. Smith says they first wait to get the ‘all-clear’ from the fire department, then get permission from landowners to do their work. Smith says It takes about a year to see if Mother Earth repairs herself. After that, they’ll decide what and where to plant.
TreePeople’s mission is big on education. The group hosts numerous lectures, classes and special events all geared to teaching people how to plant, replant and create defensible space.
As with any non-profit, Smith says they count on money and manpower. He says people are welcome to donate money, time or supplies. Smith says TreePeople has a very dedicated and loyal staff of volunteers who love to do replanting projects. He says they’re always looking for more people.
CEO Cindy Montanez mentioned at a recent event that Tree People is caring for a record number of trees and is at full throttle restoring fire-ravaged areas. She added that her group will leave no community behind.
Listen to my feature with nursery manager, Jack Smith.