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Planting ceremony to launch Centennial 100 Trees Project at UW-Eau Claire

| Julie Poquette

Eighty-three. That’s the number of tree species currently growing on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. But that number is about to grow — to 107 — thanks to a student-faculty-staff initiative underway in honor of the university’s centennial.

The initiative, called the Centennial 100 Trees Project, will officially be announced during a ceremonial tree planting at noon on Monday, Oct. 24, on lower campus at a spot north of the Nursing Building and west of the Council Oak tree. Speakers at the tree-planting event will include Chancellor James Schmidt as well as student, faculty and staff representatives from the Centennial 100 Trees Project team.  The event is open to the public.

Through the project, 100 trees will be planted on the UW-Eau Claire campus during the university’s centennial year, and those trees will be the basis for an eventual campus arboretum. The Student Office of Sustainability, a commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, made a donation to fund the purchase of the trees, which will all be planted by next spring.

Faculty, staff and students working on the Centennial 100 Trees Project and arboretum development have included Dr. Crispin Pierce and Dr. David Soll, faculty members in UW-Eau Claire’s Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies; student Ethan Fuhrman, director of the Student Office of Sustainability; Dr. Joseph Rohrer, professor of biology; Martin Goettl, geospatial technology facilitator in the geography department; Daria Hutchinson, landscape designer and gardener, and Joe Munson, grounds shop supervisor, both in UW-Eau Claire’s facilities management department; and Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations.

The Student Office of Sustainability became involved in 2014 in improving the natural environment of the UW-Eau Claire campus by planting native plant species and working toward restoring it to its original condition as much as possible, Fuhrman said.

"Students at UWEC overwhelmingly support additional trees on campus, and taking into account the location of our campus — surrounded by a state natural area and the Chippewa River — it's hard to see why they wouldn't,” Fuhrman said. “It's a shared desire of both SOS and the faculty and staff involved with this initiative to educate students on native plant life as a way of fostering an appreciation for the natural environment."

The future campus arboretum will include an online map, currently under development, that will show each of the tree species growing on campus and link to scientific and cultural information about each species. The map, created by Hutchinson and Goettl, is expected to be available in the next few months for students, faculty and staff as well as community members and other campus visitors.

“Our vision is to recruit students over the next few years to work on this project to expand the information available about each tree and to create a print brochure,” Soll said.

With support from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, the arboretum project also will include the installation of signs during this academic year for the approximately 15 tree species that are particularly representative of the Wisconsin landscape.

“Eventually, the vision is to have a sign for each of the species on campus,” Soll said. “The combination of abundant signage and the online map tool will make for an impressive arboretum. This will help enhance the enjoyment of visitors and campus community members as they stroll through Wisconsin's most beautiful campus.”