The University of Findlay has, for the first time, received the designation of Tree Campus USA from the Arbor Day Foundation thanks to a new and robust arboreal management program that is being overseen by Ben Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of biology.
Representatives from UF will travel to Lakeside, Ohio in May to be formally recognized at a Foundation-hosted ceremony. An Arbor Day campus celebration will be held Monday, April 24 at 11:30 a.m. on Cory Street Mall just north of the bell tower. A London Plane tree will be planted where two ash trees were removed.
UF’s campus for years has been reputable for its colorful and meticulous landscape. In 2014 the University received a high rating, along with special recognition for its floral displays, by the horticultural award program America in Bloom, which at that time suggested the school consider urban forestry planning.
Long-term planning with a dedicated committee “is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now,” said Dolan, who has worked with students on a campus tree census, and continues to educate landscape crews on best practices and techniques for optimal plant health.
Dolan said Stephanie Miller, an urban forester with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources office here in Findlay, helped him submit the lengthy application to the Arbor Day Foundation; Miller also assists the City of Findlay, which has received Tree City USA designations for years. To apply, two and four-year colleges must show evidence of five “standards” ranging from existence of a campus tree advisory committee to organization of a service learning project. Few colleges undertake the application process, let alone attain the designation.
In spring 2016 Dolan supervised the creation of a campus tree care plan, which details an advisory committee’s role, mandates an initial tree inventory and annual tree hazards check, and suggests continuing education for grounds crews. Moreover, arboriculture policies have been devised to outline long-range design and other goals for planting and removal.
A portion of the plan is dedicated to ash trees, which have all been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle that has been infiltrating and killing ash trees in the United States since its accidental introduction here during the 1990s. Dolan said the University began treating 40 campus ash trees nine years ago to keep them alive, a measure that costs $200-300 per treated tree, applied every other year.
“We took some time to reflect, and considered the long-term expense” of treatment, said Dolan. It was decided that treatment will be discontinued for most. Ashes will be cut down at the rate of about eight trees per year for the next for five years. Four were removed during spring break, including a large ash that occupied Old Main’s front lawn. Other tall, aesthetically pleasing tree species, also selected for their diversity, will replace the ashes and be strategically planted throughout campus.
The University has created an arboretum fund for general tree care, emerald ash borer management and tree purchases.
Meanwhile, Dolan said professional development workshops will be held for landscaping crews on matters such as proper mulching and pruning techniques.
The Arbor Day Foundation explains that participation in its programs is environmentally and economically sound. Along with providing shade and protection from sun and wind, trees reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and can significantly reduce the amount of energy a campus, and community, needs to generate. Additionally, sustainable green spaces enhance relaxation and promote service-learning.
For more information about the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program, visit https://www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa/