Planting roots

University en route to being recognized as a Tree Campus USA

Trees line the University of Nevada, Reno quad where various events and spring graduation are held.

Trees line the University of Nevada, Reno quad where various events and spring graduation are held.

Photo/Sage Leehey

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Fall has begun, and one of the best places in the city of Reno to see leaves changing colors is the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

“UNR is just an excellent example of an arboretum, which is a living tree museum—that’s how I state it anyway—for Reno,” said Steve Churchillo, city of Reno urban forester and UNR Arboretum Board member. He added that Idlewild Park is a great place for seeing the leaves change, too. [Full disclosure: RN&R editor D. Brian Burghart is also on the Arboretum Board.]

And on Oct. 25 at 8:30 a.m., the campus will get about 10 to 12 additional trees. As part of an ongoing initiative to become a Tree Campus USA—a program and designation from the Arbor Day Foundation—and Nevada Shade Tree Week, the UNR Arboretum Board and the City of Reno have partnered up to plant trees at the Nevada Early Intervention Services’ Early Head Start facility on the north end of campus.

“Reno is a Tree City USA … and this will be the first year—after they submit this application to National Arbor Day Foundation—that UNR can become a Tree Campus USA,” Churchillo said.

Nevada Shade Tree Week runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 2 and was established years ago by the Nevada Shade Tree Council as a fall celebration similar to the national holiday of Arbor Day in the spring.

To apply to become a Tree Campus USA, the campus must have a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, a verification of dedicated annual expenditures on the campus tree plan, an involvement in an Arbor Day observance, and an institution of a service learning project aimed at engaging the student body, according to the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. The event on Oct. 25 will count as a service learning project for this process. There will be volunteers helping with the planting on Saturday from UNR’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity and others.

Churchillo said the city’s Urban Forestry Division aims “to promote the proper care and proper planting of trees throughout Reno and to let people know that there are significant mature trees throughout our city, particularly on the campus” and that the recognitions of Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA help in achieving that mission. He also said that the proper care component is especially important in Reno.

“It’s always a challenge to plant and keep trees alive in an arid climate,” Churchillo said. “Most of the trees that grow here, almost every species that is here does not grow here naturally. They are not native to Reno or Nevada. … The big message is that we want to make sure people water their trees throughout the summer. Without irrigation, our trees would not survive for the most part.”

The Arbor Day Foundation has similar goals in mind with the Tree Campus USA program.

“By meeting the annual standards and being recognized as a Tree Campus USA college, you will create a campus that not only helps to benefit and create a more sustainable environment, but instills pride in the students, faculty and community,” reads a statement on their website.