Land Connections  

This mailer has been provided as an avenue to disperse information pertinent to public agencies and the landscape architecture profession in hopes of fostering greater understanding and collaboration. Topics address issues that affect the built environment within which we live.


The Great Valley Center & The Green Canopy Initiative

"No town can fail of beauty, though its walks were gutters
and its houses hovels, if venerable trees make magnificent
colonnades along its streets."
Henry Ward Beecher

The previous two LAND Connections issues addressed benefits and protection of trees. This issue will focus on a local California effort to improve not only trees but our urban forests. These urban forests are valuable assets to our communities and therefore warrant effective, efficient programs to maintain and manage them. Surprisingly, only 21 of the 56 cities in the San Joaquin Valley have active urban forestry programs. This statistic is part of the reason why the Great Valley Center, (GVC) headquartered in Modesto, has begun "The Green Canopy Initiative" program.

The Green Canopy Initiative -
This program, funded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, focuses on assisting local San Joaquin Valley cities and communities during their development of urban forestry standards, programs and ordinances. The project's intent is to produce a guiding document that will include detailed information for a comprehensive list of topics that should be addressed within urban forestry plans. Ultimately the hope is that each community will utilize this document to start, update or finalize their own urban forestry programs leading to a valley-wide standard. Topics the program would like to address in the completed document include:

  • Funding resources and options.
  • Current scientific based recommendations for planting and pruning.
  • Requirements for tree inventories, management software and management plans.
  • Environmental quality impacting ordinances such as parking lot shade requirements, tree/sign conflicts, and green roofs.
  • Sustainability through rubber sidewalks, permeable paving, solar power, and structural soils.
  • Design standards for new development.
  • Special management techniques for areas such as downtown districts.
  • Contractor relation/communication tips.
  • Case studies of successful projects throughout the valley.

Creating a document of this nature and gaining support for it is a large task. The GVC believes it can accomplish this task by researching existing successful programs and ordinances, soliciting input from stakeholders, forming a steering committee of trade professionals, publishing printed and electronic copies of the the guide for distribution, presenting the guide in conferences and meetings, and encouraging adoption of the document by local governing bodies. The project is well under way. A steering committee has already been created and has met to discuss project milestones and items addressed in the document.

The GVC will soon be soliciting public input and comments regarding the draft guide. The following schedule reflects current projected deadlines for the program. All interested parties who may have thoughts on the program should pay close attention as September draws near.

  • Early September 2009 - Draft copy of guide ready for review.
  • Mid September 2009 - Public forum to solicit input.
  • December 2009 - Final copy of guide published and ready for distribution.

If this subject interests you and you would like additional information, another valuable valley specific tree guideline resource is available and can be found at the link below.
Tree Guidelines for San Joaquin Valley Communities

O'Dell Engineering

The next time you need a Landscape Architect on your project, consider O'Dell Engineering's Landscape Architecture Department.

Services include:

  • Park and Playground Design
  • Recreational Facility Design
  • Site Planning
  • Streetscape Design
  • Urban Design
  • Commercial Design
  • 3-D Visualizations
  • Graphic Design
  • Arborist Consulting




  • Trees & the Urban Environment Part I
  • Trees & the Urban Environment Part I
  • Universal / Inclusive Design - Part I-Playgrounds
  • State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance
Author: Chad Kennedy, Landscape Architect

This informational article provided by O'Dell Engineering - 1165 Scenic Drive, Suite A, Modesto CA 95350