CSU receives 8th Tree Campus USA award at tree planting event

Meagan Stackpool

Colorado State University was recognized as a Tree Campus USA for the eighth time at this year’s “Right Tree for the Right Place” event. 

It is through the efforts of the Colorado State Forest Service, the College of Natural Resources and the College of Agriculture Sciences that the University has received this award eight times. Greg Zausen, a forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, explained what the award of being a Tree Campus USA meant during his speech in which he presented the award to the Director of the Forest Service, Mike Lester.

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Volunteer Paul Furnas helps plant a tree along Pitkin Street April 19. This Arbor Day event focused on planting the right tree in the right place. (Ryan Schmidt | Collegian)

“CSU is again being recognized as a Tree Campus USA… by the National Arbor Day Foundation,” Zausen said. “(The) Tree Campus USA program recognizes college campuses that effectively manage their trees, connect with the community beyond campus to foster healthy urban forest and engage the student population by providing service learning opportunities.”

The event focused on the “Right Tree for the Right Place” campaign, which encouraged volunteers to participate in planting new trees. The campaign focuses on finding the right tree for the right place, focusing on the soil quality, characteristics of the tree and surrounding area.

The event had volunteers plant 10 trees along the parking lot directly west of Canvas Stadium. It also featured a tour of the Heritage Arboretum. The colleges of natural resources and agricultural science as well as the Colorado State Forest Service care for the arboretum, a space dedicated to growing a variety of trees. 

Scott Simonds, campus arborist and horticulture supervisor, explained the specific decision to use Fairmount Ginkho and Golden Rain Trees in the plots along the parking lot directly west of Canvas Stadium. 

“They’re columnar and we have a very tight space, so we don’t want a broad canopy,” Simonds said. He added that the plots used to plant the 10 trees used to have ash trees on them. However, with the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that specifically targets and kills ash trees, the University is following city precedent of removing young ash trees and replacing them with trees unaffected by the insect. 

The CSU Bookstore also played a large role in planting the new trees. John Parry, director of the bookstore, explained how they have been using the campaign “save a plastic bag, plant a tree” to help fund planting trees on campus.

(The) Tree Campus USA program recognizes college campuses that effectively manage their trees, connect with the community beyond campus to foster healthy urban forest and engage the student population by providing service learning opportunities.”

-Greg Zausen, Colorado State Forest Service forester

He said that for every customer who skips a plastic bag at checkout, they are given a token that donates five cents to a fund for planting trees. The bookstore then donates up to $1,500 a year to plant trees on campus. Parry also said the campaign actually saves the bookstore money.

“We like to give back,” Parry said. “We support a lot of different activities on campus, whether it’s student groups or things like (planting trees). It’s a great opportunity. It works well for us and it works well for the program.”

Lester explained how planting trees on campus related to CSU’s core value of sustainability. 

“(Sustainability is) a journey. It’s not a point in time. … It’s an ongoing effort,” Lester said. He explained that the trees on campus are a sign that the University truly values sustainability. 

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Jim Klatt, a professor and extension landscape horticulturist in the department of horticulture and landscape architecture, said that there are 1,800 species of trees in the Arboretum, which is entirely privately funded. He added that planting trees leaves a legacy for students. 

“Students need to be involved,” Klatt said. “They can leave their legacy. They can come back 10, 15 years from now, and they can come find the tree (that they planted).”

Danielle Montgomery, a first-year professional science masters student specializing in zoo, aquarium and animal shelter management, explained why she went to help plant trees. 

“I think it helps with the beautification of campus,” Montgomery said. “One of the reasons why I love CSU (is) for…its natural beauty with all the trees and the different plants, so it feels good to be a part of that.”

Meagan Stackpool can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MeaganStackpool.