Oklahoma State University has been recognized by Oklahoma Forestry Services and the Oklahoma Urban and Community Forestry Council for achieving national certification — the Tree Campus USA designation — from the Arbor Day Foundation. It’s the eighth year in a row OSU has earned the certification.
OSU-Stillwater has more than 3,200 trees of 123 different species across its 870 maintained acres. Qualifying for the award has multiple requirements from having a campus tree advisory committee to a campus tree care plan and Arbor Day observance.
This year’s OSU Tree Planting ceremony is set for 2 p.m. March 28 at the Orange Grove, just north of the Classroom Building. The event is open to the public. This year’s tree will be a Swamp Chestnut Oak, a large shade tree native to Oklahoma.
Steve Dobbs, director of Landscape Services, said the Arbor Day Foundation certification is a testimony to the university’s commitment to “a healthy urban forest.”
“The trees benefit everyone, and not just for shade,” he said. “They also have an environmental impact, such as minimizing storm water runoff, limiting pollution, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and providing wildlife habitats.”
All of the trees on campus are catalogued from species to size.
“It is important to know what you have for an urban forest from a management standpoint,”
he said. “Our trees are valued at over $9,388,000, and that is a significant investment
to maintain and protect. Trees are an asset.”
Eight years ago, a group of students from Eco OSU provided matching money through a grant for the purchase of a handheld GPS unit that could inventory and collect data on the campus trees.
“We also use the inventory to make sure we plant diverse species that will mature at different times,” Dobbs said. “We use the inventory to monitor our campus tree canopy or shade coverage, which is currently at 4.3 percent.”
The campus interactive map has a feature in the layers section where viewers can click on a tree and see the catalogue information.
“Many of our trees also have QR (Quick Response) code signs at the base that tell us even more information about the tree and its growing preferences,” Dobbs said. “We would invite any student club or organization to learn more about our trees on campus. They can get involved in our tree program or with the Arbor Day tree planting by calling OSU’s Landscape Services.”