Tree Campus USA 2017Sacramento State, home to more than 3,500 trees, has earned Tree Campus USA honors annually since 2012. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

Sacramento State “takes a bough” as a Tree Campus USA for the sixth consecutive year.

“We are thrilled to once again be recognized,” says Paul Serafimidis, director of Sustainability and Plant Operations. “Our trees are a wonderful part of our campus environment, and it’s an honor to care for them and enjoy the benefits they provide.”

The Arbor Day Foundation honors colleges and universities across the country for effectively managing their urban forest and involving students, faculty, and staff in conservation programs.

Sac State, which boasts more than 3,500 trees, became just the sixth California university to achieve Tree Campus USA status in 2012 and has repeated every year since. The University continues to meet – and excel at – the foundation’s five requirements: an ongoing campus tree-care plan, an active tree-advisory committee, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, an annual Arbor Day observance, and student service-learning projects.

Currently, 344 U.S. colleges and universities are a Tree Campus USA.

“Trees are some of the greatest natural resources on our campus,” says Sustainability analyst Kristina Cullen. “Our 3,500-plus trees sequester carbon and help to reduce Sac State’s greenhouse gas emissions. The trees are as identifiable with our campus as the American River and are significant to the University’s sustainable legacy.”

Sacramento State boasts more than 400 tree species, including 20 varieties of oak and pine, scattered across 170 landscaped acres. The most diverse plantings are found at the University Arboretum and the Sokiku Nakatani Tea Room garden, outside the University Library. The campus gingko trees have received national and international media attention, thanks to Joanna Hedrick, a staffer at the Student Service Center, who rakes the fallen gold leaves into unique patterns.

Sac State’s recent conservation efforts include a partnership between the University’s grounds crews and student Amanda Baker to plant an irrigated orchard on the south end of campus. The fruit is donated to the Associated Students Inc. Pop-Up Pantry, which serves Sacramento State students experiencing food insecurity.

In addition, grounds crews planted trees to replace those removed for construction and gas pipeline projects. All new plantings are California natives and drought-resistant, and many are propagated in campus greenhouses. As well, students and staff are calculating the carbon sequestration of all 3,500 campus trees.

“We recognize the many benefits of planting and maintaining trees, including carbon and pollutant removal, heat reduction, reducing stormwater runoff, and sheltering animals,” says Erik Skall, lead grounds worker. “Trees also add to the campus’ aesthetic and educational experience.

“The Tree Campus USA designation highlights Sac State’s commitment to manage and preserve the natural resources we have in our trees,” he says. – Dixie Reid