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March 19, 2014

OU earns Tree Campus USA status for first time

OKLAHOMA CITY — The University of Oklahoma received special recognition for tree care at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City during the statewide Arbor Day celebration. This was the first year the university qualified as a Tree Campus USA.

OU is among 21 cities, two Air Force bases and five public utilities that have been designated as a Tree City USA community or Tree Line USA utility in Oklahoma this year. In addition, seven college and university campuses have attained Tree Campus USA status.

To earn Tree Campus USA status from the National Arbor Day Foundation, a college campus must meet five core standards. It must establish a campus tree advisory committee, create a campus tree care plan and a tree program with dedicated annual expenditures recommended at $3 per full-time enrolled student.

The campus also must sponsor an Arbor Day observance and implement a service learning project to engage the student population in activities related to trees.

On the OU campus, Arbor Day was celebrated during the last week in March 2013.

Students could either sign up as individuals or as a group to help plant trees around campus. Approximately 275 volunteers from the student body and community participated in the event.

“Arbor Day to me means spreading the awareness about all of the benefits that trees bring to our campus, and it signifies an important aspect of our rich heritage at our university,” OU student Tayler Bolton said.

Featured speakers at the event were Urban Forestry Coordinator Mark Bays with Oklahoma Forestry Services; Ed Macie, Regional Urban Forestry program manager with the USDA Forest Service in Atlanta; and Jared Carlson, development manager of related business ventures with the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City, Neb.

Macie urged Oklahoma’s communities to take better care of hard-working, urban trees to reap environmental benefits.

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