This Saturday, Oct. 14, more than 100 volunteers will gather on the east side of Mackay Stadium on the University of Nevada, Reno campus in celebration of Nevada Shade Tree Week and Homecoming to plant more than 300 tree saplings and shrubs. University Grounds Services is partnering with the University Arboretum Board, the Northern Section of the Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and students.
The trees will be planted on the steep dirt slope above the Intramural Practice Fields to prevent erosion, beautify north campus and create wildlife habitat.
"What is exciting about this event is the collaboration among many different groups," Marty Sillito, assistant director of Grounds Services and the leader of this project, said. "This event brings together community, campus and student volunteers. And, there is even a Boy Scout who will be involved for his Eagle Scout badge."
Volunteers will plant 313 plants, including 135 tree saplings and nearly 180 shrubs, thanks to a grant from the Nevada Division of Forestry. Lisa Ortega, Urban Forestry program coordinator, stresses the value of "urban forests," which is a concept new to most people. Urban forests provide the same ecosystem services as native forests, such as wildlife habitat, air pollution abatement, water filtration and soil stabilization.
The plants were purchased from the Washoe State Nursery and Moana Nursery and include the trees Ponderosa Pine, Bosnian Pine, Curleaf Mountain Mahogany, Hackberry, Black Locust, Lacebark Elm, Honey Locust, Oakleaf Sumac, and Serviceberry, and shrubs Antelope Bitterbrush, King Edward VII Currant Bush, Sagebrush, Quailbush, and Mormon Tea. These mostly native plants are known for their drought tolerance, ability to thrive in northern Nevada and wildlife habitat.
Cheryll Glotfelty, chair of the University Arboretum Board, notes that this year's planting is phase two of an effort that began in 2015.
"In 2015, we planted 192 seedlings on a very steep, south-facing, dirt slope to the north of the Intramural Practice Fields," Glotfelty said. "The slope was so steep that Grounds Services had to prepare the slopes in advance by installing horizontal rows of wattles, and some ropes for safety and assistance for volunteers going up and down the slope, that were anchored to giant water bags at the top. We stationed rows of volunteers along the wattles, with a vertically placed 'human-chain' seated on steps carved in advance in the very steep dirt slope. Volunteers at the bottom passed the seedlings up this human chain. They were then handed horizontally to the planting volunteers."
Glotfelty reveals that Grounds Services and the Arboretum Board share a dream to create a campus greenbelt that will extend from Evans Avenue in a horseshoe shape around the baseball field and practice fields, returning to Evans Ave. near the new, student-housing complex.
"We envision a beautiful greenbelt with a path threading through it, where staff and students can walk, jog and enjoy nature," Glotfelty said.
This planting event also qualifies as a student service-learning project, which helps the University apply for recertification as a Tree Campus USA, a program administered through the Arbor Day Foundation. To be recognized as a Tree Campus USA, a university must meet five criteria:
1. The University must have a tree advisory committee that meets regularly.
2. There must be an approved tree care plan for campus.
3. Finances must be allocated to support the campus tree program.
4. Arbor Day must be observed.
5. There must be a student service learning project.
The University earned Tree Campus USA status in 2014 and has been recertified each year since.