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Appalachian earns Tree Campus USA certification

BOONE—Appalachian State University has received Tree Campus USA certification from the Arbor Day Foundation. The certification process was a collaborative effort between the Department of Biology, Department of Geography and Planning, Physical Plant and New River Light and Power.

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“This certification demonstrates Appalachian’s commitment to environmental aspects of sustainability,” said Mike Madritch, an associate professor of biology and member of the university’s certification team.

The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across the United States. Tree Campus USA started in 2008 and since then 110,785 trees have been planted on university campuses. There are currently more than 135 million Americans living in the 3,400 Tree City USA communities.

Appalachian’s Tree Campus USA discussions started during the 2009-10 academic school year. The tree campus committee developed a management plan and organized outreach and planting efforts.

“Our urban forests also provides economic and social benefits to the campus, and achieving and maintaining Tree Campus USA recognition requires long-term planning and continued efforts to properly manage our trees,” Madritch said. “Each year we will undergo a recertification process to make sure we are making good progress towards our short- and long-term goals. The benefits are well worth it, we’ll make progress toward carbon neutrality, and our students, staff, and faculty will have a great campus to live and work on.”

Other members of the team who oversaw the certification process were facilities superintendent in landscaping services Eddie Hyle, plant heath care professional Chris Erickson, physical plant horticultural specialist Jason Harkey and physical plant landscape superintendent Jim Bryan. As part of his graduate studies in biology, Harkey also surveyed every managed tree on campus.

“The Tree Campus USA certification expresses Appalachians dedication and commitment to our urban forest which shows we have made a commitment to support, maintain and grow a sustainable urban forest, thus reducing our carbon footprint,” Hyle said.

“We have made a commitment to replanting trees when other trees are removed, and to properly maintain the trees we have – which is why we earned the Tree Campus USA certification,” Madritch said. “People would be surprised by the amount of maintenance an urban tree needs because around here, most of the trees people see are in the forest and don’t require specialized care. It’s very different on an urban environment like a heavily trafficked campus that has underground steam lines, road salt, soil compaction and exposure, among other stresses. It takes a trained arborist to really understand what specific trees need.”

Appalachian’s tree survey is now available online at



Donna Presnell
Office of Sustainability