Volunteers plant trees around Waller Creek to celebrate Texas Arbor Day

Hannah Williford

Students and staff helped plant trees around Waller Creek in celebration of Texas Arbor Day on Friday.

Around 30 volunteers worked alongside University Landscape Services to plant native shrubs, wildflowers and trees to keep out invasive species and prevent erosion, said Landscape Services manager Jim Carse. While the national Arbor Day celebration encourages people to plant trees in April, Texas Arbor Day is held on the first Friday in November so people can plant in the cooler climate. 

“Waller Creek is eroding pretty badly in areas,” Carse said. “The more plant material we can get to the roots to spread out on the slopes, the better it’ll hold that soil … We can’t lose this (slope) in a flood because then we’ll start losing sidewalk, and it’ll be bad news.”

Urban forestry supervisor Jennifer Hrobar said the planting and cleanup efforts help keep the area clear and safe. She said the efforts also create a more seamless transition between central campus and east campus. 

Although many trees and brush have been removed from the Waller Creek area to keep the area from becoming overgrown, Hrobar said it is important to plant new species in the area.

“If we have to get in there and remove a bunch of stuff, we want to do it in a way that makes (the) most sense (and) that’s as sustainable as possible,” Hrobar said. “It’s not something that you just go in and cut the trees down and it’s taken care of … The purpose of this event is to fill those voids with something you actually want to grow there. Nature doesn’t like a blank space.”

Volunteers chose from a selection of plants to take home after their planting was done as a reward. Avery McKitrick, an employee of the student-led Campus Environmental Center, said volunteering at the event allowed her to get first-hand experience helping the environment. 

“My role at the Campus Environmental Center doesn’t allow me to do a lot of hands-on stuff,” environmental science junior McKitrick said. “So any opportunity I get to help out and do something that’s hands-on, and that’s really functional and boots on the ground, I always like to take that opportunity when I can.” 

Carse said hosting the volunteer event helps fulfill requirements so the University qualifies for Tree Campus USA, a program led by the Arbor Day Foundation to encourage campuses to establish healthy green areas.