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With more than 3,000 trees on campus and a committee devoted to the preservation of trees, Weber State University has been named Tree Campus USA for the second consecutive year.
Tree Campus USA is a program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation. It is a recognition given to campuses that effectively manage their tree populations, develop connectivity with the community to foster urban forests, and strive to engage students into service-learning projects for forestry efforts. The recognition doesn’t come without meeting the Tree Campus USA standards.
The first standard is that the campus must have a Campus Tree Advisory Committee. The committee must include a faculty adviser, facilities management member and student involvement. Brian Hadley, landscaping manager at WSU, is part of this committee.
“The purpose of this is to get together and discuss what things we’re doing on campus, possible construction that is going to affect trees, possible planting projects and things of that nature,” Hadley said, “anything tree-related, just to make sure you’re getting a complete scope of what’s going on on campus.”
The second standard is to have a campus tree-care plan, which should have a clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees. The next standard is to have a Campus Tree Program dedicated to annual expenditures. This will provide for the cost of trees, labor and equipment.
The fourth standard is Arbor Day Observance, which provides an opportunity to educate the community and students of the benefits of trees. Lastly, the fifth standard is service-learning projects.
Hadley made Jared Stetson the lead arborist on campus. Stetson was the one who put the committee together and sent the application for Tree Campus USA to the Arbor Day Foundation.
“One thing that stuck out in the application was the goal of the preservation of trees during new construction projects,” said Sean Barry, director of media relations for the Arbor Day Foundation. “The campus even has a written policy that contractors must adhere to when working on or around trees.”
Hadley, Stetson and the Tree Advisory Committee said they are very pleased with the recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation, but want more awareness on campus from the students.
“Trees are very, very important. They are undersung heroes. They do more than anyone really puts weight to,” Hadley said. “They do a great job at carbon sequestration, they clean our air, they provide stormwater mitigation, and they shade our parking lots. There is also the aesthetic value of trees. Can you imagine a campus with no trees? We’re very blessed to have a wonderful urban forest on campus.”
Barry said the Arbor Day Foundation is pleased that WSU and Utah State University are the only two campuses that have achieved Tree Campus USA. However, they hope to have more universities putting forth the effort to become a Tree Campus USA.
“We’re definitely happy to see the effort WSU is putting forward,” Barry said. “Since we launched the program in 2008, we have seen a minimal growth and only have close to 200 campuses in the country that are Tree Campus USA-recognized. We have helped communities with Tree City USA program, but we haven’t really worked with the student community, so we wanted to target them. We want to make sure the next generations of people who want to work or have an interest to take care of trees have the opportunities to do so. We have events and advertise on campuses around the country, but we can only do so much. The campuses themselves have to take the rest of the initiative.”