Self-Guided Tree Tours Debut

Pat McDonald, manager of landscaping and grounds, checks the leaves of one of the more than 3,700 trees on UNC's campus.

Photo by Barry LaPoint

UNC will celebrate its ongoing status as a Tree Campus USA and the recent national accreditation of its arboretum with a celebration Friday that will include the official opening of three self-guided tours of campus trees.

Activities beginning at 9 a.m. outside the UNC Visitors Center at 1862 10th Ave. will also include the presentation of UNC's Tree Campus USA certificate by Diana Selby, assistant district director for the Colorado State Forest Service, on behalf of the national Arbor Day Foundation.

The event is open to members of the public, who are encouraged to stay and take one or more of the tours, according to Pat McDonald, UNC manager of landscaping and grounds.

The self-guided tours, developed by a team of campus staff and students, are detailed in the "Campus Tree Guide," which includes a map of each tour, basic information about each tree species and facts about the UNC arboretum. Numbered stops on the map match low-profile wooden markers at the base of each tree.

Each of the tours - Central Campus, University Center and West Campus - includes 30-40 trees and takes about an hour. The campus currently is home to more than 3,700 trees, including four State Champion trees - a Kentucky coffee tree, a pecan tree and two Amur cork trees. About 1,250 of the trees are native to Colorado.

Printed guides will be available in holders at the trailhead of each tour. The holders will include a QR code that can be scanned with a mobile electronic device to access to an online version of the map.

The guide, including locations of tour trailheads, is available at www.unco.edu/treetour.

McDonald learned last month that UNC's campus arboretum - its trees, shrubs, flowers, plants and landscaping - has been accredited by the national ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.

In addition to its trees, the campus arboretum includes more than 17,000 annual flowers, hundreds of perennial plantings, a Colorado grassland exhibit, a xeric demonstration garden with 24 community garden plots and numerous xeriscapes.

The accreditation program, which includes specific criteria for four levels of accreditation, is sponsored and coordinated by the Morton Arboretum in cooperation with the American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. UNC's arboretum received level 1 accreditation, the starting level.

"To be designated and recognized as a certified arboretum offers the university a number of benefits ranging from student recruitment and retention to healthy food production via our community gardens," said McDonald. "Arboreta attract and retain researchers, faculty, staff and students. We maintain an arboretum, not just a campus landscape. Our arboretum also represents our history, which needs to be preserved for future generations for teaching and the quality of life for our community."

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