150 new trees celebrate CSU’s sesquicentennial

To celebrate the 150th birthday of CSU and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, 150 trees will be planted on the main campus. File photo by CSU photography

For centuries, philosophers have wondered, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

This Earth Week at Colorado State University, perhaps the philosophical question should be, “If 150 trees are planted on a campus and only a few socially distanced people are around to hear it, do they  make a sound?”

The answer will certainly be a resounding, “Yes,” and once the campus reopens completely, students, employees and visitors will again enjoy resting in the shade and marveling at the beauty of the newest members of our urban forest.

To celebrate the 150th birthday of CSU, and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the 148th Arbor Day, Facilities Management staff will begin planting 150 trees on the main campus to replace those that have been lost to construction as well ash trees to be removed in anticipation of the arrival of the emerald ash borer. The trees will also recognize the ongoing stewardship of the Facilities Management Outdoor Services Group. 

Urban forestry education

“For 150 years, CSU has practiced stewardship of urban forestry through its education of generations of foresters and practices on campus,” said Scott Simonds, CSU’s campus arborist.

“Planting a variety of tree species creates a more resilient campus through tree diversity and provides additional resources that can enhance learning.”

The sesquicentennial trees have been donated or provided at a reduced cost to CSU by Bailey Nurseries, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Loma Vista Nursery and Oregon Pride Nurseries Inc.

CSU manages an urban forest of about 10,000 trees distributed over three campuses in Fort Collins (Main, South and Foothills) on 2,400 acres of land. The majority of the managed urban forest is located on the main campus within 220 acres of irrigated landscape. CSU is a Level 2 Campus Arboretum and tree planting is in direct support of this national designation. Additionally, CSU is Tree Campus USA certified through the Arbor Day Foundation and is Bee Campus USA Certified through the Xerces Society.

Tonie Miyamoto, co-chair of the CSU President’s Sustainability Commission and director of communications and sustainability in Housing and Dining Services, said the original plan was to have student and employee organizations across campus participate in the tree planting throughout the week, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift in plans.

“We are disappointed that our plans had to be adjusted but understand that the health of our campus community is the most important concern,” she said. “We look forward to the return of our entire CSU community and know that these beautiful trees will be around to shade us, diversify our landscape and bring us joy for generations to come.”

Land-grant heritage

Stewardship of the land on which CSU sits is an important aspect of the its land-grant heritage and maintaining plants and trees plays an important role. In its Land Acknowledgment, CSU respectfully honors the space as the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Ute Nations and peoples. The land provided sites for trade, gathering and healing for numerous other Native tribes and stewardship of the land is a responsibility and commitment of CSU. 

Tony’s tree to honor Chancellor Frank

Of the 150 trees being planted on the Colorado State University main campus, one on the Oval will have special significance: It will be dedicated to CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank, a longtime advocate of the university’s sustainability efforts.

“The President’s Sustainability Commission is honored to plant the first-ever commemorative tree on the Oval to recognize Dr. Frank’s support and advocacy for sustainability during his tenure as President of CSU,” said Tonie Miyamoto, co-chair of the CSU President’s Sustainability Commission and director of communications and sustainability in Housing and Dining Services. “It’s a fitting tribute for the President who signed the Climate Reality Pledge, created the Sustainability Commission, and oversaw our first-ever STARS Platinum rating.”

A plaque near the tree will read: “In honor of Dr. Tony Frank, President of Colorado State University 2008-2019. Commemorating a lasting legacy of support and advocacy for sustainability. Planted by the President’s Sustainability Commission – Earth Week 2020.”

To learn more about the history of trees on the CSU Oval, visit https://source.colostate.edu/oval-trees-101/

If you are interested in contributing to a fund that supports and maintains the incredible trees on the CSU Oval through the Oval Preservation Fund, visit advancing.colostate.edu/CSUOVA.