A new group of faculty, staff and students at Kansas University is trying to raise money to benefit the many trees throughout the campus.
A new fund, set up through the KU Endowment Association, is just launching, said Jeff Severin, director of KU’s Center for Sustainability.
In an ideal world, the fund would provide enough for a full-time staff person to maintain an ongoing program, replacing trees as needed as well as keeping up with other maintenance.
While Severin estimated that position, with the needed trees and supplies, would likely cost about $75,000 per year, a specific goal has not yet been established for the fund. The cost of 50 new trees would be about $25,000, Severin said.
A new tree advisory board, consisting of several members of the campus community, will work on that and other issues in the future. The board also will allow KU to apply for designation as a Tree Campus USA, a sister program for the long-standing Tree City USA designation. Baker University in Baldwin City has been designated as a Tree Campus for two years.
Robert Hagen, field education coordinator for KU’s environmental studies department, is on the new tree board.
“There’s a great deal of concern about trees,” he said.
Diseases and insects are threatening pine and ash trees on campus, while other trees are simply aging.
“There are some beautiful (ash trees) in front of Watson Library and Fraser Hall,” he said. “They’re in serious trouble.”
The group sponsored a recent event that was attended by KU’s chancellor that replanted some redbud trees along Jayhawk Boulevard. The trees, across Jayhawk Boulevard from Watson Library, had been taken out as part of work on an underground steam tunnel in the area.
Severin said trees have historically been a part of the campus’ natural beauty. Marvin Grove, an area of trees near the Spencer Museum of Art and Campanile Hill, was once populated by walnut trees planted under the direction of James Marvin, KU’s third chancellor, who served from 1874 to 1883.
Today, that area is one that’s targeted for renewal.
Environmental studies students will help with some parts of the effort. For example, they’ll put together an inventory of the campus’ current trees.
Severin said the tree board also may recommend policy changes that could address issues such as replacement of trees removed because of construction.
“We don’t have any sort of specific policies for that right now,” Severin said.