EKU Named Tree Campus USA; Arbor Day Activities Planned

file photo of tree planting

Amidst all the ongoing positive changes at Eastern Kentucky University, among the constants is the careful attention paid to the trees of every shape, size and species that dot the campus landscape.

That historic commitment explains why EKU has again been named a Tree Campus USA.  The national program, launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota Motor North America Inc., honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

To obtain the 2014 Tree Campus USA distinction, EKU met five core standards for sustainable forestry: 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.

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

Several Arbor Day activities are planned at the University:

·         Wednesday, March 18, 11 a.m. – ceremonial planting of six American chestnut trees on the south side of the New Science Building. EKU President Michael Benson will speak at the event. Across the Eastern By-Pass on the south side of campus, EKU Tree Campus USA and the Kentucky chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation are collaborating in the establishment of an American chestnut breeding orchard. The Foundation’s mission is to restore the American chestnut tree to the forests of Eastern North America by breeding genetically diverse blight-resistant trees, evaluating various approaches to the management of chestnut pests and pathogens, and reintroducing the trees into the forest in an ecologically acceptable manner. The orchard project will assist students in researching the rate of growth, blight resistance, shade resistance and the retrieval of seeds.

·         Friday, March 20, 1-4 p.m., Service Day at Elmwood. Volunteers who assist in the removal of invasive plant species and the planting of native shrubs and trees will also have the opportunity to tour the historic home. “In addition to the ecological benefits of native biodiversity, native species are a part of our cultural heritage, so restoring and conserving them on EKU’s campus will contribute to a public understanding of our local heritage,” said Dr. Jennifer Koslow, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. “Removing the wintercreeper vines will help make the trees healthier and more visible and allow young trees to become more established. Also, the invasive vines are used by roosting starlings, an invasive species of bird, during the winter, so removing the vines could help with that problem as well.” All members of the campus community as well as local residents are invited to join the work on March 20. If interested, sign up at bit.ly/193dLqE or simply show up at the site on the work day.

·         Saturday, March 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Taylor Fork Ecological Area Service Day. Members of the EKU Greek community, among others, hope to plant about 500 trees and shrubs. The trees – red oaks, Kentucky coffeetree, wild plum and roughleaf dogwood – were donated by McDonald’s TDS Restaurants. “In addition to the planting, we’ll also be working to remove some invasive species and take down some old, unused fences,” said Dr. David Brown, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and manager of the Taylor Fork Ecological Area. “The goal is to enhance diversity of native shrubs and trees and speed the process of succession to help create a variety of habitats at the site. The fences can impede movement and cause injury to wildlife.”

Published on March 13, 2015

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