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CMU students, faculty and staff join in tree planting to enhance campus and community.

On Friday April 26, CMU students, faculty and staff planted shade trees along what was previously a shadeless area along 12th Street and Kennedy Avenue in celebration of CMU’s Tree Campus USA designation, now in its seventh year. In order to maintain the designation that was first granted to CMU by the Arbor Day Foundation in 2013, the campus observes Arbor Day each year and completes a service project that includes CMU students and revolves around tree stewardship on campus or in the community. CMU is among select colleges and universities in the US to receive the distinction. The honor is a reflection of the university’s commitment to encouraging students to care for the community’s tree resources.

“With hundreds of trees and shrubs throughout the main, Montrose and Western Colorado Community College campuses we have increased diversity of the campus’ urban forest,” said Doug MacDonald, RLA. As CMU’s landscape design and sustainability manager, MacDonald takes pride in the Arbor Day designation. “Green plants produce oxygen, sequester CO2, allow rainfall to infiltrate soils, support storm water management systems and provide outdoor instructional and study spaces.”

The designation and planting was a result of several factors. University leadership often communicates the campus objective of sustaining a highly attractive environment for students, faculty and staff. Faculty from the biology department and the environmental sciences department partnered with the local Colorado State Forest Service field office to complete the Tree Campus USA application process. In addition, a commitment to sustainability from CMU’s Department of Facilities played an important role in securing this honor from the Arbor Day Foundation. The combination of these factors made the designation seem inevitable to Tim Foster, president of CMU.

“We’re pleased but not surprised by the recognition,” said Foster. “Creating healthy, livable green space for our students and community makes CMU a more desirable place to learn, live and work. We often talk about the importance of academic programing. It’s also important to acknowledge all we do to create and sustain desirable campus landscaping. The Arbor Day designation reflects the values of CMU leadership, faculty, staff and students.”

This year, Tree Campus schools have collectively planted more than 32,000 trees with the assistance of more than 31,000 students. Some unique trees on campus provide a sense of pride for the university’s facilities department. The University of Wisconsin recently requested cuttings and seeds from an Arizona Cypress tree at CMU. Despite a local climate that challenges many varieties of trees, CMU has also received recognition for hosting a number of state champion trees.

CMU Associate Professor of Biology Margot Becktell, PhD, believes that environmental stewardship occurs in everyday efforts to make the world a better experience for people. 

Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation said that the Foundation “celebrates the diligence of CMU in improving the environment and quality of life at Colorado Mesa University,” and thanked CMU for “contributing to a healthy planet for all of us.”

CMU is a select university in Colorado to be a Tree Campus USA. Additional faculty and partners supported the project including Professor of Environmental Sciences Deb Kennard, PhD, and Kamie Long with the Colorado State Forest Service. Student support is included on the Tree Campus committee and for 2019 includes environmental science major Jeff Purdy. CMU President Tim Foster as well as Associated Student Government representatives Beau Flores, Jeff Vella and CMU Student Trustee Amara Hobbs were on hand to observe the efforts and thank volunteers.

  • CMU President Tim Foster alongside ASG students and volunteers

    CMU President Tim Foster alongside ASG students and volunteers.


Written by David Ludlam