FROMLINE: Alani Casiano
Newswise – The University of Northern Colorado campus received a welcome, vibrant facelift last week. As part of this year’s Arbor Day and Earth Day celebrations, students, faculty and staff picked up shovels and got their hands dirty by planting 122 new trees on the university’s 250-acre campus.
UNC has been recognized as a Tree Campus Higher Education Institution by the Arbor Day Foundation each year since 2012. The annual award, which the university received again last March, honors colleges and universities for their effective forest management on campus and for the commitment of staff and students to conservation goals.
This year’s recognition coincided with a $4,000 grant from the Colorado Tree Coalition (CTC) that helped fund the 122 new trees, a goal the university set itself last fall after it awarded the former Grand Champion silver maple tree estimated to be around 122 years old. The tree, thought to be the oldest and largest tree on campus, was felled last October after it was found to be showing dangerous decay. The loss of such an historic, award-winning, six-foot-diameter tree was devastating to those who had fond memories of it.
“The silver maple was planted around 1800,” said Sarah Boyd, landscaping and site manager at UNC. “This is a great loss for the campus. It is a tree that many students, faculty and staff have engaged with, supporting events and activities in the area. I’ve even had families share stories with me about how they take their family photos with this tree every year.”
The new trees were planted on April 21-28 by Landscaping and Grounds staff and volunteers from Student LEAF, Earth Guardians and students on UNC’s ENST 364 Leadership and Community Building course, who worked with the city’s Forest Service throughout the semester Greeley have worked together to advocate for the community around tree planting. The trees included a mix of birch, ginkgo and other species and were planted near Carter Hall, McKee Hall, the Xeric Garden and other locations on campus.
The new trees not only pay homage to the silver maple, they are also an important and long-overdue addition to the campus. According to Boyd, the university has been losing trees at a faster rate than replacing them for several years. Replanting trees not only brings aesthetic benefits to the campus, but also benefits the environment and people’s experiences on campus.
“We’re very fortunate to have an older campus with lots of mature trees that provide a lot of shade,” Boyd said. “Trees help mitigate some of the moisture loss on campus. They also help mitigate some of the solar reflection that occurs in campus parking lots. It’s just a great place to restore and support the mental health of students, faculty and staff.”
The CTC grant is just one way to fund UNC’s ongoing tree planting efforts. Individuals interested in making a donation to this effort can visit the Give to UNC website, select “Other” for the donation designation from the drop-down menu, and type in “campus trees.” Checks may also be mailed to: UNC Foundation, Campus Box 20, Greeley, CO 80639.
About the Colorado Tree Coalition:
The Colorado Tree Coalition (CTC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, restoring, and enhancing community forests nationwide. The CTC awarded grants totaling $44,315 to 17 organizations in 2022. These grant projects enabled recipients to plant and manage trees in community forests throughout Colorado. Grants are made possible through the Colorado State Forest Service, the Xcel Energy Foundation, Colorado Public Radio, and our CTC members and supporters. Since 1991, the CTC has awarded grants to 225 communities and organizations totaling more than $1,125,000. These grants were supplemented by more than $8 million in community funds and contributions in kind.
This grant is part of the CSFS Your Ash is on the Line project, which is supporting frontline communities with an integrated response to the loss of ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).