University of Utah earns “Tree Campus USA” designation

Members of the University of Utah's Campus Tree Committee hold the Tree Campus USA flag they received at a luncheon Wednesday. Left to right are U Parks, Recreation and Tourism graduate student Troy Bennett; Red Butte Gardens horticulture director Marita Tewes Tyrolt; U of U Facilitites Management, grounds and open spaces supervisor Sue Pope; U of U Parks, Recreation, and Tourism PhD candidate Elise Gatti, and Sustainability Resource Center director Myron Willson.

Members of the University of Utah’s Campus Tree Committee hold the Tree Campus USA flag they received at a luncheon Wednesday. Left to right are U of U Parks, Recreation and Tourism graduate student Troy Bennett; Red Butte Gardens horticulture director Marita Tewes Tyrolt; U of U Facilitites Management, grounds and open spaces supervisor Sue Pope; U of U Parks, Recreation, and Tourism PhD candidate Elise Gatti, and Sustainability Resource Center director Myron Willson.

By Hilary Smith, Sustainability Resource Center

“Do they even have trees in Utah?”

That’s what Salt Lake City forester Tony Gliot says people asked him when he was planning to move here from suburban Chicago.

“I think so,” was Gliot’s response. And when he got here, he told an audience on campus Wednesday, he found “a vibrant community of foresters and people who appreciate trees.”

Around 80 foresters, arborists, politicians, and tree advocates gathered Wednesday for the Utah Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division’s 2015 Northern Municipal Forestry Workshop, where the University of Utah officially received its Tree Campus USA designation, a national initiative created by the Arbor Day Foundation to promote the planting of healthy, well-chosen trees on campuses, as well as to inspire student involvement in planting, tree maintenance, and tree-related research and outreach. To earn the Tree Campus award, two- or four-year universities must form an advisory committee, compose a tree care plan, secure dedicated annual funding for tree projects, celebrate Arbor Day, and participate in service learning projects.

Arborists, foresters, and tree lovers gathered Wednesday in the Officer's Club to celebrate Utah's Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA designations.

Arborists, foresters, and tree lovers gathered Wednesday in the Officer’s Club to celebrate Utah’s Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA designations.

The University of Utah is the most recent of three Utah campuses to have received the honor. Utah State has been a Tree Campus for 5 years, and Weber State for 4 years. Campuses must reapply for the designation every year.

“I’m proud that the University of Utah has joined campuses across Utah and the U.S. to celebrate our urban forests,” said Elise Gatti, chairperson of the U of U Campus Tree Committee. “It’s a great opportunity to engage student learning and research that focuses on the many benefits of trees, as well as their needs.”

Sustainability Resource Center director Myron Willson accepted the Tree Campus flag on behalf of the U. Willson spoke

Sustainability Resource Center Director Myron Willson speaks about the importance of trees on the University of Utah campus, after the U received Tree Campus USA designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Sustainability Resource Center Director Myron Willson speaks about the importance of trees on the University of Utah campus, after the U received Tree Campus USA designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

briefly about the wide-ranging sustainable benefits provided by trees on campus: carbon sequestration, general beautification, and contribution to pedestrian pathways that encourage staff and students to get outside and get walking.

In addition to three campuses, this year 89 communities across Utah received Tree City USA designations or recertifications. To be a Tree City, a community must meet standards similar to those for Tree Campuses, including having a city tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a funded community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Representatives from each community were invited forward during Wednesday’s event to collect their honors and to describe one or two of their cities’ tree successes.

Some cities, like Saratoga Springs, Elk Ridge, and Fairview, were receiving the designation for the first time; others, like Salt Lake City, Brigham City, Logan, Murray, Ogden, Price, Provo, Springville, and Wellsville, have been Tree Cities for more than 25 years. At 38 years, Murray holds the distinction of being Utah’s oldest Tree City.

There are currently 89 Tree Communities (Tree Cities, Campuses, and Lines) in Utah.

Utah currently has 89 Tree Communities (Tree Cities, Campuses, and Lines).`

Provo City Power, Brigham City Power, and Rocky Mountain Power were also recognized as Tree Lines USA, a designation awarded to utility companies that demonstrate quality tree care, provide annual worker training in best practices, plant trees and provide public education on trees, institute a tree-based energy conservation program, and sponsor or participate in Arbor Day celebrations.

Trends resounded throughout the honorees’ speeches. Many of Utah’s Tree Cities are striving to keep up with rapid development, by planting more and more trees. Several cities’ representatives discussed their partnerships with community businesses, their coordination of volunteer tree planting events, and their bringing of tree-related lessons into elementary schools.

The event also included morning workshops focusing on state urban forestry initiatives, as well as opportunities to share what has worked for Utah’s urban foresters and what hasn’t.

“If you love trees, you love them wherever you are,” said Provo City Forester Ty Nielsen.

Hilary Smith is a graduate student in Environmental Humanities. She is a graduate assistant in the Sustainability Resource Center. 

2 responses to “University of Utah earns “Tree Campus USA” designation

  1. Congrats U of U, this is great news. Does the tree plan include adapting to climate changes by choosing different ones to plant? Trees live so long this seems important to do. What trees are recommended for us in the valley as the climate keeps changing? Thanks for any tips if anyone is reading this.

    • Hi RLF,

      Thanks for your question! To better respond, I contacted Sue Pope, the U’s Facility Manager for Landscape and Open Space. Here is what she had to say:

      “We will be working closely with the state urban forester, Red Butte Gardens, and others within the state to determine which trees are best for our climate and growing conditions as we see changes. As part of the state arboretum, our goal is always to preserve the trees we have and incorporate trees that will adapt and survive as our climate changes.”

      If you are personally interested in reducing water use in your own yard, you may want to check out Lifelong Learning’s Waterwise Landscaping class, a three-part workshop in partnership with Red Butte Garden and the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Sign up online at https://continue.utah.edu/lifelong/class/llhg_521_waterwise_landscaping.

      Thanks for reading,
      Ayrel Clark-Proffitt
      Sustainability Resource Center

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