Utah State University has been distinguished as a 2020 Tree Campus USA, as awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation. The national higher education program, launched in 2008, honors college and universities and recognizes excellence in campus tree management as well as student and community involvement. It is USU’s 11th consecutive year receiving the designation.
“Earning the Tree Campus Higher Education designation for Utah State University means that USU is continuing to invest in our amazing campus forest,” said Dane Gyllenskog, university arborist and chair of the USU Arboretum Committee. “Utah State has been recognized for Tree Campus Higher Education for 11 consecutive years and has held the designation longer than any other school in Utah.”
For a campus to be recognized, it must meet several Tree Campus Higher Education standards, some of which include:
- Establishment of a campus tree advisory committee.
- Evidence of a campus tree care plan.
- Verification of the plan’s dedicated annual expenditures.
- Observing Arbor Day.
- Creating a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body.
“The campus forest is important for so many reasons,” Gyllenskog said. “The trees provide green space for recreation and exercise and a place for students to allocate time for mental health by taking much-needed breaks and walks outside. There are also many environmental benefits from having a thriving urban forest, including carbon sequestration and the cooling effect trees have by the shade they provide.”
USU takes great pride in documenting its trees on campus. Mike Kuhns, professor and forestry specialist, helped create a tree identification tour, which documents 87 different types of trees across the USU campus. The tour is designed to guide walkers on a journey, starting on the south campus and working its way through the Quad, Old Main Hill, around the student center and ending in the central campus.
“Trees are very important and meaningful parts of college campuses,” Kuhns said. “As one walks through a campus you see that they give feelings of permanence and respect for the past and the future. Trees also help colleges save money on utilities, provide shade, and provide ‘a sense of place.’”
According to Gyllenskog, USU has 324 different species of trees on its main campus and more than 7,000 individual trees. With another 2,000 trees on its statewide campuses, USU manages more than 9,000 trees throughout the state. USU’s oldest tree is an Austrian pine, which was planted in 1908 on Aggie Boulevard near 900 East. The campus forest also contains several rare trees for the area, including the Chinese Toon, a Turkey oak and a Japanese emperor oak. The campus also has multiple state-champion trees.
For more information on USU’s campus tree tour, visit forestry.usu.edu/tree-identification/campus-tree-tour. For more information on USU’s commitment to trees, visit www.usu.edu/facilities/services/campustree.