San Francisco has one of the lowest tree canopy percentages of all major urban areas in the U.S., but Verizon, the National Football League, the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and local nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest plan to change that. On April 27th, they joined forces to plant several trees at Hillcrest Elementary School in San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood.
The new trees serve as the first permanent reminders of Super Bowl 50, and the project also celebrates the ceremonial “passing of the shovel” from the Arizona Super Bowl XLIX Host Committee to the Bay Area’s Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. This golden shovel, symbolizing the environmental community projects inspired by the Super Bowl each year, has been handed from one host community to the next for more than a decade.
Just days before the planting in San Francisco, City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Verizon Green Team volunteers lent a hand in the official golden shovel handoff to San Francisco at Keep Phoenix Beautiful’s PHX Renews site. Over the course of two days, a dozen trees were planted at both PHX Renews and at a location in South Phoenix, bringing the final total to more than 200 trees planted as part of the legacy of Super Bowl XLIX. One of the trees planted was a Fruitless Olive tree, and a similar tree was donated from Arizona to the people of San Francisco for the April 27 event.
“We are looking forward to working with great partners in the Bay Area where so many folks are aware and supportive of environmental issues,” said Jack Groh, Director of the NFL Environmental Program. “This is the 11th year we have supported urban forestry projects. The need for trees and the opportunity to plant them are great in the San Francisco area.”
This first tree planting is only a preview of future endeavors as the NFL, Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and other partners plan a series of urban forestry initiatives throughout the Bay Area in the months leading up to the big game.
Verizon is the first-ever NFL sustainability program sponsor and this will be the third year the network has partnered with the organization. As part of its support, Verizon has worked with the NFL and each regional host committee to create electronic waste recycling rallies, expand urban forestry projects such as tree plantings, and provide grants to local domestic violence organizations. Employee members of the Verizon Green Team have also been involved – donating their time and energy to help plant trees in each Super Bowl community.
The urban forestry program is just one part of the overall environmental and community initiatives that surround the Super Bowl each year. Other projects include solid waste recycling, collection and distribution of prepared food (69,000 pounds last year at Super Bowl XLIX), collection of public E-waste items for recycling and use of renewable energy to power the major public facilities hosting Super Bowl events, among many other initiatives. These projects are developed each year by the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee with significant support from Verizon and the more than 100 local schools, nonprofits and civic organizations that participate.
Verizon looks forward to celebrating 50 years of Super Bowl glory and continuing to partner with the NFL to give back to different communities across the country, one tree at a time.