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Makeover for Calexico landscape

February 16, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Almost 950 new trees are taking root in this city's parks and playgrounds.

All this week International Environmental Corp. of Los Angeles has been planting Chilean mesquite, lemon scent eucalyptus, Indian laurel and four other varieties of trees.

The mass planting was made possible by a $100,000 "Trees for the Millennium" grant provided by the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection. Centinela State Prison also donated 150 more trees.

City Hall staffer Rosalind Guerrero, a Calexico Beautification Commission member, wrote the grant to qualify for the forestry funds and city employees donated $50,000 in work hours to match the state's contribution.

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Calexico Chamber of Commerce president Libby Peraza, a manager at Calexico's Valley Independent Bank branch and a Beautification Commission member, said the next step will be taking care of the trees.

She hopes community members — particularly youths — graft onto the commission's budding "adopt-a-tree" program.

Peraza said if a child is reached at an early age the child would be more likely to take ownership of a tree and "baby-sit" it.

Calexico Recreation Director and Beautification Commission chairman Javier Gonzalez said the last-tree planting of this magnitude in the city was four years ago. Some of those trees have been singed by the Valley heat and damaged by city maintenance crews.

Gonzalez said the commission will take steps to protect the new trees by installing protective rings.

Peraza said she thinks her fellow commission members would be willing to drive around and check on the new trees to make sure they are growing strong.

In a few months, the prison will send another 150 small trees that will need to find fertile ground.

Gonzalez said those trees could be given to his alma mater, San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus, service agencies such as Neighborhood House and local businesses in need of a sprucing.

On Wednesday, Mayor Victor Carrillo saluted the efforts of the commissioners at a planting ceremony.

"They've taken it upon themselves to beautify Calexico by adding to the green space. The trees will make Calexico a lot nicer and add to the aesthetics of the city," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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