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Arbor Day Foundation designates Boise State a ‘Tree Campus Higher Education Institution’

Boise, or as it is lovingly known by residents, “The City of Trees” just got even greener. Thanks to enormous efforts by Boise State students and faculty, the university is now a designated ‘Tree Campus Higher Education Institution’ thanks to the Arbor Day Foundation. At the campus’s Arbor Day celebration on April 29, members of the campus community planted three new trees provided by the City of Boise to celebrate the university’s designation.

This designation is in recognition of work completed by School of Public Service Lecturer Mari Rice and 30 students in her 300-level Environmental Studies course during the Fall 2021 semester.

Students digging in a planter in the Quad
Students help plant new campus tree, Photo by Lainey Rehkemper

Rice and the students surveyed and documented every tree on campus in a comprehensive online story map and developed a tree management plan.

The project was a collaborative effort between the students, Campus Landscape Services, the Service- Learning office, Campus Sustainability, and the Idaho Department of Lands who trained the class and gave them access to the tree inventory software.

“The tree inventory will help guide tree care on campus, provide sustainability data about the ecosystem services provided by trees on campus, and serves as a tool for the campus community to learn more about the social and ecological benefits of trees,” Rice said.

This project also brings Boise State closer to its STARs Sustainability goals, and supports the City of Boise’s ongoing City of Trees Challenge to plant 100,000 trees in a decade.

Student wraps measuring tape around girth of tree in autumn
Student Owen McBride measures a tree for the survey.

“Boise State is supporting the city’s overall goal of maintaining a sustainable urban forest. Creating a diverse urban forest in both age and species are critical to Boise’s urban forest health,” said Michael Andrews, Boise City forester.

“I love that the faculty and students are learning more about arboriculture through becoming a Tree Campus Higher Education,” Andrews said. “Some of the comments I heard from the ENVIR 300 students included ‘We see a lot of one or two species planted’ or ‘We noticed many trees planted too close to buildings or sidewalks, creating root issues.’ These are things that I deal with on a regular basis and frequently educate the public about. I know that when these students get a chance to plant trees of their own in the future, they will think of these issues and follow one of my favorite mottos, which is ‘Right tree, right place.’”

“My favorite part of working on this project was getting the chance to see all of the hours of tree plotting and research culminate to the final project of the Tree Care Plan,” said interdisciplinary studies senior Katie Dandrea. “It was incredibly gratifying to see the fruits of our labor in one, succinct document.”