LGE/KU Grant Enables University to Plant More Trees

The Richmond campus of Eastern Kentucky University, long known for its landscaping beauty, will soon be getting even greener.

And not just because Spring is around the proverbial corner.

Thanks to a $4,000 grant from LGE/KU as part of its “Right Tree, Right Place” program, numerous trees will be planted across what is already a Tree Campus USA.

In addition to a ceremonial Arbor Day tree planting in the University’s scenic Ravine on April 4, grounds crews will be planting several more seedlings around campus and at the University’s Taylor Fork Natural Area.

David Williams, associate director of Facilities and Services for campus and grounds, explained that the project will focus on local native species with special emphasis given to pollinator plants. “The trees we plant on campus help cool our environment, improve our air quality and reduce storm water run-off, which in turn helps keep our streams and rivers cleaner. Trees add oxygen to the atmosphere while reducing carbon dioxide levels, provide wildlife habitat and create a peaceful and attractive environment for teaching and learning.”

The Arbor Day ceremony, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 4 in the Ravine, will also feature a tree climbing exercise, with ropes and harnesses, sponsored by EKU Adventure Programs.

Then, on April 5 and 6, volunteers – individuals and organizations – are invited to participate in “service days” at Taylor Fork Ecological Area, a new natural area on the southern edge of campus. The Taylor Fork event will emphasize honeysuckle eradication. All the activities also coincide with a month-long observance at EKU of Earth Days.

Attendees and participants in the Arbor Day ceremony and Taylor Fork service days will each receive a seedling, courtesy of the Kentucky Department of Forestry, to plant at home. Various species will be available.

“We want to make this a community effort, not just a University effort,” said Randy Wilson, program coordinator for EKU Campus and Grounds. “We just want to raise awareness of the value of trees.”

To learn more about the Taylor Fork service days and/or volunteer to participate, contact Dr. David Brown, assistant professor of biological sciences, at david.brown@eku.edu.

EKU apiculturist Dr. Tammy Horn welcomed the addition of more pollinator-friendly trees, calling it “an important step in responsible stewardship, providing food and habitat for the bees, bats, hummingbirds, moths and other types of pollinators while balancing the unique demands of campus land care. It underscores EKU’s acknowledgement that pollinators are necessary to maintain a healthy and beautiful ecosystem many of us take for granted.”

In 2014, the campus will host a conference of the Eastern Apiculture Society. “The more visible the campus is in its appreciation of pollinators, the more the visiting beekeepers will appreciate it,” Horn said.

Award-winning research by recent EKU graduate Nan Campbell showed a serious need for more pollinator plants on the Richmond campus. “Seventy percent of flowering species are pollinated by insects,” Horn noted, “yet land use changes severely impact nectar and pollen availability, especially in the fall.”

Published on March 01, 2013