UI earns Tree Campus USA recognition

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Friday, April 18, 2014
Tree Campus USA logo

The University of Iowa’s longstanding commitment to sustainable campus forestry and a rich tradition of student service-learning has earned the campus recognition as a 2013 Tree Campus USA. This is the fifth consecutive year the UI has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation. The UI was Iowa's first Tree Campus USA institution and is one of only four Tree Campus USA award winners in Iowa.

Andy Dahl, UI arborist in Facilities Management (FM), says, “This is quite an accomplishment, and we owe it all to the hard work of our student volunteers. Although we have a heavy workload of routine tree maintenance we are always looking for special projects and partnerships to further promote the UI urban forest and honor our commitment as a Tree Campus USA.”

Herky helps Landscape Services staff and UI students plant trees on the Pentacrest
Herky helps Landscape Services staff and UI students plant trees on the Pentacrest.

To be recognized as a Tree Campus USA, campuses across the nation must meet five core standards for sustainable campus forestry. Those include: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and student service-learning projects.

In 2013, the FM Landscape Services team planted 225 trees on the UI campus. Student volunteers logged 443 volunteer hours, planted 790 tree seedlings, and filled 60 bags with garlic mustard pulled at various locations across campus. Landscape Services staff and student volunteers also planted 38 fruit trees in the new UI orchard located off Mormon Trek Boulevard.

The FM Landscape Services team is also working to protect and propagate some of the state champion trees on campus including American Chestnuts, Scarlet Oak, and Yellowwood. A lightning protection system was installed earlier this year in the 130-year-old Iowa state champion Black Walnut which resides on the UI Pentacrest.

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Preparation has already begun for the next several years which could prove to be anything but routine. Dahl says, “We look forward to the coming year but realize there are some real challenges to contend with like Emerald Ash Borer, an unprecedented level of construction activity, severe weather, and the diversity of species in our tree inventory. Hopefully, the tree work we do today will become tomorrow’s tree legacy at the UI.”

To participate in upcoming tree plantings and campus clean-up events, check out the Earth Day schedule here.

Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability added, “Trees provide us with invaluable ecosystem services for a sustainable world. They help keep our atmosphere in balance, save energy, provide important habitat and beautify our campus. The Tree Campus USA designation is a great way to highlight all the work that’s been done to protect and care for our campus trees.”

UI Facilities Management Landscape Services Team
Landscape Services staff accept the Tree Campus USA award April 3, 2014.

The National Arbor Day Foundation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources – Forestry Bureau presented the Tree Campus USA award to representatives of the UI Facilities Management Landscape Services team at the 24th Annual Urban Forestry Awards Luncheon, held in Johnston, Iowa, on April 3, 2014.

The Facilities Management Landscape Services team of Shawn Fitzpatrick (landscape services supervisor and ISA Certified Arborist ), Andy Dahl (UI Arborist and ISA Certified Arborist / Municipal Specialist ), Mike Rhinehart (UI Arborist and ISA Certified Arborist ), and Alan Allgood (UI Tree Trimmer and ISA Certified Arborist) maintain more than 7,700 trees on the main campus and the UI Research Park, and typically plants more than 300 trees each year.

Tree Campus USA, is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and sponsored by Toyota to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.