Tree-planting to celebrate Arbor Day, Tree Campus USA award

Faculty, staff, students and visitors to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus: Look around as you stroll the malls and notice the trees. Trees in varying shapes, sizes, colors and textures.

Young trees, old trees. Evergreen and leaf-dropping trees. Fragrant trees. Flowering trees.

For all of these trees, ASU has received a 2011 Tree Campus USA award for maintaining the five annual standards developed by the Arbor Day Foundation to promote healthy trees and student involvement. (The award only applies to the Tempe campus, since ASU’s Arboretum Grounds Services does not track trees on the other campuses.)

And the Tempe campus will have three more trees as of April 5, when The Arboretum at ASU plants three guavas during a Tree Campus USA Arbor Day observance at 2 p.m., in the Secret Garden. (Located between Dixie Gammage and West halls.)

According to Deborah Thirkhill, program coordinator for the Arboretum, the five annual standards are the establishment of a tree-advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

“We won 100 trees the inaugural year of Tree Campus USA in 2008 and have received the recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation every year since,” Thirkhill said.

While the newest trees will be guavas, the oldest documented tree on the Tempe campus is the Arizona cypress on Orange Street in front of Physical Education East, which was planted in 1910,” Thirkhill said.

There is no official count of the number of trees on the Tempe campus, but Thirkhill hopes to have a list soon.

“We recently installed a GIS program to count and track all our trees. With the help of Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives students we hope to accomplish this within a year.”

One of the annual standards set forth by the Arbor Day Foundation is having a tree-advisory committee. Two new members have joined ASU’s advisory committee recently – Chris Martin, a professor in the Department of Applied Science and Mathematics, who earned his doctoral degree in environmental horticulture from the University of Florida, and Alix Rogstad, program manager for Urban and Community Forestry Programs with Arizona State Forestry.

“One of my many hats is overseeing and managing the Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA, and Tree Line USA programs within Arizona,” Rogstad said.

“ASU has demonstrated its commitment to campus forestry by hosting and facilitating a multitude of projects over the years, and it has bragging rights because it was one of the first nine recognized Tree Campus USA in the country.

“This, in and of itself, is something of which ASU-alumni and staff should be proud. I have been asked to be on ASU’s Tree Advisory Board because of my role with Arizona State Forestry. Playing a role (however minor) in the program’s future at ASU is exciting and I am looking forward to seeing how the program continues to flourish.

Other committee members are Fernando Reyna, Grounds Services; Les Landrum, curator and research scientist, School of Life Sciences; Eric Tank, ASU student; Pedro Chavarriaga and Bryon Sampson, Office of the University Architect; Francis Eiland, Arboretum volunteer; Holly Hovious and Mike Bishop, Grounds Services arborists; Mike Schantel, Grounds Services supervisor arborist; and Alana Levine, ASU recycling manager.

Mary Widhelm, program manager for the Arbor Day Foundation, said, “Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship. Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at Arizona State University contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all.”

Tree Campus USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota.