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Tree tops: Forest management earns Arbor Day Foundation praise

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the eleventh consecutive year.

The designation recognizes colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

To earn the Tree Campus USA title, UL Lafayette met five standards for effective campus forest management:

  • a tree advisory committee;
  • a campus tree-care plan;
  • dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program;
  • an Arbor Day observance; and
  • a student service-learning project.

Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, said institutions that earn the Tree Campus USA designation “set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities by showcasing how trees create a healthier environment.”

“Because of University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s participation, air will be purer, water cleaner and students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide.”

As an example of a project involving student service, Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, director of the University's Office of Sustainability, cited the “Trees for Threes” program launched last February.

For each 3-point shot Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s and women’s basketball players made during home games that month, student volunteers planted a native tree or shrub on campus. A total of 41 were planted. Vanicor said the program will continue this February.

As part of another student service project, AmeriCorps volunteers are conducting an inventory of campus trees and shrubs. Vanicor said students are “geotagging” all trees on campus, using an app to digitally pinpoint their locations. The app is also being used to log the species of each tree.

“In addition to having a count of the total number of trees on campus, the information will help us strategically plan where to plant trees and what kinds of trees might need to be planted in certain areas,” Vanicor explained.   

Enlisting student volunteers to help with forest management and campus greenery is one of many initiatives outlined in the University’s Sustainability Strategic Plan. The plan is a comprehensive statement of goals through 2021 that seek to reduce the University’s greenhouse gas emissions, and overall energy and water consumption.
Learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation and its Tree Campus USA program at arborday.org.