In the past months, Charlotte Cadow, Buildings and Grounds intern for the Office of Sustainability, has been pursuing Tree Campus USA certification. This certification puts in place infrastructure to improve the health and diversity of trees on campus.
Cadow believes that this certification is essential to ensuring a healthy future for Colorado College’s trees.
“We are currently facing increasing pest populations, the introduction of new pests, climate change, and an aging tree population,” said Cadow.
President Jill Tiefenthaler and Sustainability Manager Ian Johnson are both on board for the application process.
The certification involves an application involving the creation of an advisory committee (which must include staff, facilities, students, and community members), a campus tree care plan, a campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures, annual Arbor Day observance, and a service-learning project.
The advisory committee has been formed, and the group is now working on creating a Campus Tree Care Plan.
“We are working on compiling relevant information such as tree care policies, protection and preservation policies, terminology definitions, tree damage assessments, and prohibited practices,” said Cadow.
The Campus Tree Plan will be based on other campus’ plans and the Tree Care Industry Association standards. These standards include pruning, soil management, lightning protection systems, and integrated vegetation management.
The Tree Campus certification will also give CC a more favorable rating in the Sierra Cool Schools rating system. CC currently ranks 59th out of 153 schools on the Sierra Cool Schools list.
The Tree Campus USA program is run through the Arbor Day Foundation, a non-profit conservation and education foundation dedicated to tree planting nationwide.
Another element of the certification is the initiation of an Arbor Day event, which Cadow envisions as two-fold. The event would address the health and status of campus trees and involve the planting of new trees on campus.
“Due to a number of factors, we currently have more trees being removed than planted, so this is super relevant to our campus,” said Cadow.
Also required for the certificate is a dedicated annual expenditure of $3 per student to be spent annually on tree care.
One of the most interactive elements of the certification is a service-learning project in which students, faculty, and staff participate in a tree-related event.
“Our goal for this part of the application is to foster a sense of place, while targeting students, faculty, community, and facilities,” said Cadow.
An idea for this element is the creation of a database for memorial trees.
“This has been a major upset for some people who have dedicated trees in the memory of loved ones and then are unable to locate the trees,” said Cadow.
The advisory committee consists of Mike Spruce, Jacquie Ostrom, Nate Sweet, Anabelle O’Neill, Tass Kelso, Shane Heschel, Jean Lee, Ian Johnson, Jerry Switzer, Lara Grevstad, and Becky Wegner. There have been two meetings so far, on Dec. 7 and Feb. 8.