Alicia Watson nails a tag on tree No. 4B-19 - the Burke Family
Tree purchased by Sharon and Robert Burke - with the help of her
husband Steve Mick in front of an insurance office building in Alamo.

Alamo trees get tagged for posterity
Metal tags mean trees were planted by someone, for someone

By Meghan Neal
Danville Weekly
Friday, May 2, 2008

Not unlike "tree huggers" who make headlines when trees are endangered, "tree taggers" in Alamo are making sure the oaks, hollies, evergreens and others along Danville Boulevard are appreciated and safe.

Many of the trees lining the street were planted during the Boulevard of Trees Project, which added 800 trees between 1987 and 2005 in order to revitalize the once-lush road. Locals could purchase a tree for $100 and dedicate it to a family member or in memory of a loved one.

Over the next few weeks, members of the Alamo Beautification Advisory Committee (Zone 36) will be tagging the special trees to remind people of their significance.

"Hopefully those tags will give people pause, so they don't take those trees down," said Alicia Watson, chairwoman of the committee.

The small metal tags give each tree an ID number that can be used to look up who purchased it and in honor of whom. The records are kept in a book compiled by Lillian Burns, an original member of the Boulevard of Trees Project who is helping with the tagging.

Danville Boulevard used to be a stagecoach road; it was State Highway 21 until the freeway was built in 1964. In the early 1920s residents lined it with trees as a memorial to soldiers who fought in World War I. The trees grew into an arching canopy that attracted visitors to Alamo just to drive the country road.

"It used to be when you would drive down the street the trees came over the road and touched," Watson said. "A wonderful tree bridge."

But by the 1970s most of the trees were gone, mainly from disease. Twelve years later the Boulevard of Trees Project was created to restore the beautiful canopy.

"It adds to the ambiance of Alamo," said Watson. "And trees are so very important, not just for our health, for our mental health. I think they have a calming effect on people. When you see something beautiful, you don't race by it."

Burns recalled being there when the first tree was planted at the intersection of Sycamore Valley Road and Danville Boulevard, 20 years ago. She still knows each tree from the project by heart, she said.

The idea to tag the trees came about in 2006 when a property manager at Las Trampas Center cut down two dedicated trees that were pushing up the sidewalk, after the county complained they were a "tripping hazard" and a potential liability.

County staff at the time said they didn't realize the trees were part of the project or held special meaning to the community. The Zone 36 committee hopes the tags will help avoid this kind of misunderstanding in the future.

"We want to preserve what we have and make sure trees continue to survive and grow," said Steve Mick, a member of the committee. "Alamo's a wonderful place to live and our trees are important to all of us."

The book documenting each tree and its dedication is being kept at the Bank of America in Alamo, as well as a plaque commemorating the dedications. The list can also be viewed online at