UT celebrates Texas Arbor Day by planting and giving away trees

Jessica Shu

On Friday, UT students, faculty and staff gathered along Waller Creek to celebrate Texas Arbor Day by replanting native tree species and giving away seedlings grown from seeds gathered on campus.

Last year, Landscape Services removed invasive species along Waller Creek, making the area more prone to erosion.

“As these non-native species were often the dominant plants in many areas, their removal caused large voids of bare ground,” Supervisor of Urban Forestry Jennifer Hrobar said. “We need to replant with native species to build diversity and help improve the health of this important riparian (river) ecosystem.”

Eighteen student volunteers helped with the replanting, learning about tree care along the way. Arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture and Landscape Services plant experts were on hand to educate attendees about native species and ecosystems.

Remaining seedlings were given to volunteers, students, faculty and staff on a first come, first served basis.

The seedlings were grown in the UT tree nursery at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center from seeds collected by UT students in a Green Fee-funded project.

“We chose to collect seed from trees with some kind of significance to the University, such as the battle oaks and iconic bald cypress trees of Waller Creek,” Hrobar said. “We also collected seeds from many native trees and shrubs growing on campus.”

This is UT’s ninth consecutive year as part of Tree Campus USA, which means that UT continually meets standards developed to promote healthy trees and student involvement, according to Hrobar. The annual Arbor Day celebration is part of that.

In Texas, Arbor Day is celebrated in November so that trees can become partially established before the harsh summer months, according to Phillip Schulze, arborist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Most people on campus are able to frequently enjoy the more obvious benefits that trees provide, such as enhancing the aesthetic appeal of UT’s campus, as well as providing cool shade in the summer and habitat for wildlife, according to Hrobar.

Thanks to myTreeKeeper, a new campus tree inventory completed in late 2016, the public can discover the benefits of UT’s urban forest, as well as basic information on any tagged tree.

“There are less obvious yet critical ecosystem benefits trees provide which are quantifiable, meaning you can assign a dollar amount to how many pounds of carbon dioxide a given tree sequesters, or how many kilowatt-hours of building energy are saved by shading canopies,” Hrobar said.