February 22, 2016

SIU earns Tree Campus USA designation

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale has earned the designation as a 2015 Tree Campus USA. 

Earlier this month, the Arbor Day Foundation recognized the university for its commitment to effective urban forest management. 

David Tippy, superintendent of grounds at SIU and chair of the committee that sought the national recognition, said work has been underway for some time to achieve the Tree Campus USA designation.  

“Fortunately, we have been able to solidify a good group of people dedicated to this cause. They brought with them a variety of backgrounds and knowledge that enabled us to sit down and produce a tree care plan for the SIU campus,” Tippy said.  

A diverse cross-section of campus is represented on the university’s tree committee, including arborists, forestry faculty, grounds and sustainability representatives and students. They all worked together to complete the tree plan and application and will continue efforts to promote effective urban forest management on campus. 

“This designation exemplifies the importance SIU places on trees as an essential resource and ongoing campus-wide efforts to promote a healthy campus community,” Geory Kurtzhals, sustainability coordinator, said.  

The national Tree Campus program was created in 2008 and to achieve the recognition, SIU had to meet five requirements, including creating and maintaining a tree advisory committee along with a campus tree-care plan. In addition, the university dedicates annual expenditures for the campus tree program, holds an Arbor Day observance and sponsors a relevant student service-learning project. Just 254 campuses across the country have earned the title. 

“It is an important achievement because it recognizes the university’s dedication to conservation and sustainability and serves to advertise that commitment,” Tippy said. “The beauty of the SIU campus is, in part, a tribute to having thousands of trees and dozens of wooded acres. SIU is located in the center of one of the country’s most diverse regions for tree species and our forestry department is well-recognized. This designation is also evidence of the campus’s already recognized sustainability efforts and will help us score even higher in those ratings. The university’s tree care plan and other efforts that earned us the Tree Campus USA designation provide a strong educational example for the region.” 

 Tippy said there will again be a volunteer tree-planting at SIU this spring. Details will be announced later.