Based on the extensive, historic collection of trees at Vassar College, located in the heart of New York’s Hudson Valley, it is not surprising that some people actually view the campus as an arboretum. A desire to properly manage and preserve these trees, which include a distinctive tree for each class in attendance since 1869, led Vassar to partner with SavATree to pursue a Tree Campus USA designation.
The journey began in 2012, with the formation of a Tree Advisory Committee consisting of members from the faculty, facilities department, and students, as well as a registered consulting arborist from SavATree. The committee formulated a Tree Care Plan and budget, both of which are standards for becoming a Tree Campus USA, as set out by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Vassar’s new Tree Care Plan included updating their current tree management plan which was based upon a quantitative risk assessment performed by SavATree in 2006, after a tree hit a building on campus causing significant damage. SavATree was recently tapped to perform a new inventory of campus trees located within striking distance of any potential target such as a building, parking lot, sidewalk, bench, etc. Each tree greater than 12 inches in diameter is to be assessed for risk; health, insect and disease issues will be noted; and management recommendations will be developed and ranked based upon priority.
A key component of Tree Campus USA centers around an Arbor Day observance that serves to educate the campus community on the benefits of trees. For this project, Vassar enlisted the aid of SavATree to quantify three primary benefits derived from a select group of trees on campus. SavATree used i-Tree; state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software from the USDA Forest Service, for their calculations. Stakes were placed before twenty campus trees indicating the precise contribution of each tree in terms of energy savings, stormwater mitigation and carbon sequestration.
Vassar College and SavATree are proud to work together to make students aware and engaged in the value of trees on campus.
“It is critical we understand that beyond their natural beauty, trees produce important environmental benefits and bottom line savings. By quantifying these benefits, we are sure to value trees for their significant contributions and view them as the economic assets they truly are.”
Director of Operations at Vassar