Texas State students and staff gathered in an empty lot on Aquarena Springs Drive to plant 21 trees between the San Marcos river and the Korner Stop store in honor of Arbor Day. on Friday, Nov. 19.
This event marked the university’s sixth annual Arbor Day planting. Hosting such events is part of the criteria for belonging to Tree Campus U.S.A, an organization promoting the fostering of green spaces on college campuses across the nation, Smith said. Other pieces of criteria including the planting of a new tree for every tree removed, and the dedication of funding intended to provide for the planting of new trees.
Such a fund typically includes maintenance and care costs, as well as money for a volunteer incentive. This year’s volunteer incentive included free t-shirts for the first 100 participants who signed in to the event.
Festivities began at 10 a.m. with a demonstration of correct tree-planting procedure. Members of the grounds and maintenance staff took turns showing onlookers helpful tips. For instance, the dirt in each tree’s pot must be level with the ground, as it is unhealthy for the tree to be heaped with excess dirt or to be higher than the surrounding earth.
“I’m in school for Environmental Studies, so it feels right to be a part of something like this,” said Jessica England, geography resource and environmental studies sophomore. “It’s good to be a part of the solution.”
Immediately following the demonstration, students and faculty attendees divided into groups and spread out across the plot of land to begin digging holes, spreading mulch and preparing the area for its new occupants. Tools such as rakes, shovels, and gloves were provided courtesy of the maintenance crew.
The trees that were planted—redbuds, rough dogwoods and pecans—were purchased from a variety of growers. Before they could be planted, all plastic ties had to be removed and the roots loosened.
“The pecans are from a grower close to Garfield,” said Brad Smith, current director of grounds and waste management operations. “The others came from the Native Texas Nursery, east of Austin. We couldn’t purchase them too far in advance, because most trees have to come straight from their nursery before they’re planted.”All information related to the number of trees on campus is recorded in a database and evaluated by the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, the body responsible for determining annual net loss or gain. This year, Texas State has seen a net gain of about 16 trees on campus, Smith said.
“We could talk all day about why Arbor Day is important,” said Nathan Lawrence, assistant director of grounds and waste management operations. “What’s important to me is getting the campus community out here, getting them involved.”
A veteran of nature-related work, Lawrence is a former environmental specialist for the Meadows Center, and graduated from Texas State’s horticulture program. He is currently the only certified arborist on staff.
“I believe we’re moving toward environmental deficit disorder,” Lawrence said. “People aren’t close to nature anymore. With all this construction happening in San Marcos, green spaces are disappearing. So we’ve got to make sure we’re creating as many green spaces as we’re destroying.”