Water Tower No Longer Reads ‘Welcome to Sacramento, City of Trees’

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SACRAMENTO -- Painters put the finishing touches on a new sign on the 130-foot-high water tower that borders Interstate 5 on Thursday with mixed results.

The iconic "Welcome To Sacramento, City of Trees" now reads "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital."

Some people on the adjacent bike trail gave it a thumbs down. One woman bicyclist who didn't want to identify herself just shook her head.

"Sacramento loves its trees, I like 'City of Trees'...'Farm-to-Fork Capital' doesn't make sense to me," said the woman.

Sacramento Tree Foundation Executive Director Ray Tretheway, a former city council member, says his group wasn't notified of the change. He's sorry the old sign is gone.

“Everybody coming up I-5 were reminded that this is the city of trees," said Tretheway.

But for others it was an obvious change. Visit Sacramento, the tourism organization that sponsors the wildly successful farm-to-fork events in September says there are many cities that claim to be the "City of Trees" around the world and even locally. But Sacramento is now known around the world for popularizing a new food concept.

“The reality is there are 25 cities across the globe known as the 'City of Trees' including Woodland and Chico, but there is only one 'America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,'" said Visit Sacramento's Mike Testa.

City Council member Rick Jennings, who represents the district where the water tower is located, is a supporter of city tree initiatives. But he is also a farm-to-fork fan who says the sign greets countless travelers entering the city.

"We want to invite people to Sacramento...Sacramento needs to be a destination place for people to come and enjoy the many benefits," said Jennings.

Akron, Ohio, transplant Dave Siesel was taking pictures of the new sign while walking the bike trail.

He questioned the sign when he first moved to Sacramento because he says Akron and other towns in Ohio have more trees than Sacramento.

On the other hand, he enjoys the locally grown food.

“I’d say [the new sign] is pretty fitting for the area, we’ve eaten at some of the restaurants, very good, very good," said Siesel.

Opinions seem to hinge on whether Sacramento residents care about attracting more visitors to boost the economy along with creating an identity for the city, or whether they want a more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing identity for the city.

In fact, the National Arbor foundation has given over 100 communities in California its "Tree City" designation including Woodland, Roseville, Folsom, Tracy, Stockton, Manteca and Ceres, among many others. But Sacramento was the first to get the label 39 years ago.

Both sides say that Sacramento will continue to be the "City of Trees" despite the sign change.

"It’s an earned recognition that will continue for decades to come," said Tretheway.