Published: April 12, 2011

The University of Colorado Boulder is being recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA for excellence in tree management, as well as student and community involvement.

The Arbor Day Foundation issues the Tree Campus USA designation to campuses that meet five requirements including convening a tree advisory committee, creating a tree care plan, implementing a tree program, holding an Arbor Day observance and offering a service learning project.

"Not only do the trees on campus complement the architecture and support the ecosystem," said Frank Bruno, vice chancellor for administration, "but they've brought our community together since 1888 when students and faculty started planting trees on Arbor Day."

CU-Boulder will be presented the Tree Campus USA designation and will celebrate Arbor Day with the planting of two Sweet Gum trees on Friday, April 15, from 11 to 11:30 a.m. on the grounds located across University Avenue from the Armory Building. Speakers will include campus leaders, as well as forestry representatives from the state of Colorado and the city of Boulder.

The event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by refreshments and the opportunity to speak with professionals about tree care. Attendees are advised to wear comfortable shoes appropriate for potentially moist grounds.

From the late 1880s, when one of the first trees, a Plains Cottonwood, was planted near Old Main, CU-Boulder's tree population has grown to more than 4,100 trees comprising more than 100 species.

Senior Grounds Specialist Alan Nelson credits the stone construction, size and positioning of many campus buildings for helping to create microclimates conducive to a variety of trees that would not typically grow in Colorado.

"We've got some really unique things here on campus," said Nelson. "In many ways it's a tribute to my predecessors, in that they were willing to push the envelope and try things that on paper may not grow here. They were able to have success with some of these exotic things."

Nelson leads tree walks on campus in conjunction with the CU Museum of Natural History and the CU Heritage Center, educating participants on the history and significance of CU-Boulder's trees.

The next two tree walks, which are free and open to the public, will be held on May 17 and 18 beginning at 5 p.m. on the west steps outside of Norlin Library. Participants do not need to register ahead of time but should wear comfortable walking shoes.

For details on CU-Boulder's tree care plan contact Megan Rose of Facilities Management. To explore tree-related and other volunteer opportunities visit For more information on Tree Campus USA visit

Historical photo of Old Main

A historical photo of Old Main, the first building built at the University of Colorado Boulder, shows the beginnings of the tree population on campus. (Photo by Joseph B. Sturtevant/University of Colorado Archives)

Fourth-graders participate in a University of Colorado Boulder tree walk.

Fourth-graders from Flatirons Elementary School participate in a University of Colorado Boulder tree walk. (Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)