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UW-Eau Claire to celebrate Tree Campus USA honor with April 23 event

| Scott Procter

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will celebrate its designation as a Tree Campus USA college with an event during the week of Arbor Day.

The Arbor Day celebration, to be held at 1 p.m. Monday, April 23, will begin with a program near the Sprites sculpture between Schofield and Centennial halls. It also will include a tree walk highlighting 15 tree species on lower campus.

The event is free and open to the public. Those driving to campus can obtain a parking permit at the university's Visitor Center, 127 Roosevelt Ave. (See the campus map.)

Speakers during the opening program will be Joe Rohrer, professor emeritus of biology; Matt Staudenmaier, forestry supervisor for the city of Eau Claire; and Daria Hutchinson, landscape designer and gardener in UW-Eau Claire’s facilities management division.

A Tree Campus USA dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. on the north patio of Davies Center will follow the tree walk. Brad Johnson, regional urban forestry coordinator for Eau Claire County, will present Chancellor James Schmidt with a plaque honoring UW-Eau Claire’s Tree Campus USA designation. Schmidt and a representative from the Student Office of Sustainability will also speak.

The Tree Campus USA program recognizes colleges and universities that effectively manage their campus trees and foster healthy urban forests beyond the campus. To be certified by Tree Campus USA, a college must have a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its tree program, an annual Arbor Day observance and a student service-learning project related to tree initiatives. UW-Eau Claire’s Campus Tree Plan is available online.

“We’re proud to be certified as a Tree Campus USA college, thanks to the outstanding collaboration of our faculty, staff and students over the past several years,” Schmidt said. “Much effort and expertise has gone into creating a diverse campus arboretum that will be enjoyed by campus and community and preserve the beauty of our campus for years to come.”

UW-Eau Claire’s Watershed Institute, departments of biology and geography and anthropology, facilities management division, and Student Office of Sustainability collaborated on the application for Tree Campus USA certification, as well as on the creation of the campus arboretum.

UW-Eau Claire’s arboretum — much of which was planted through the Centennial 100 Trees Project during the university’s 100th anniversary year — currently includes 91 tree species. Each species soon will be marked with informational signage, funded by a gift from Thomas and Sissy Bouchard through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Thomas Bouchard is a UW-Eau Claire associate professor emeritus of geography.

The arboretum also can be explored using an online tree locator map, created with GIS technology assistance from Martin Goettl of UW-Eau Claire's geography and anthropology department.

Hutchinson said UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff wanted to place more focus on establishing, maintaining and preserving trees on campus through a deliberate plan.

“We’re really trying to take steps toward that,” Hutchinson said. “Not just planting trees but maintaining them, structurally pruning them, protecting them from construction where we can, replacing trees that need to be removed and taking it seriously.”