UAH honored again as a Tree Campus USA

Beautiful tree on UAH campus

When he arrived in 1987, Robert Redmon began working to fill the "blank slate" of UAH's campus with trees.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The Arbor Day Foundation has for the fifth year in a row honored The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) as a 2017 Tree Campus USA, recognizing UAH’s commitment to effective urban forest management.

"Trees are part of the soul of our communities, colleges and even our lives. They are the memories of our past and framework of the future," says Robert Redmon, UAH’s senior director of grounds management, who has been a driving force in planting trees at UAH since 1987.

Currently there are 344 campuses across the United States with Tree Campus USA recognition.

The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. The University of Alabama in Huntsville achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.

"I spent a good deal of my efforts locating, propagating, growing and evaluating different trees, and at the same time adding to the university's tree cover. There just wasn't a whole lot going on in that regard 30-plus years ago," Redmon says, saying he looked at the campus as a blank slate.

"Today, as these trees are beginning to get some size and mature, I look back with great satisfaction. What I left will outlast me," he says. "Though some trees have been lost to campus construction, which is to be expected, what is here helps add to the university setting. And we do add trees back each year, mainly through construction. I hope that after I leave here that this effort of locating and incorporating different trees continues. It's part of what makes us unique."

In 2017, 99 trees were planted on the UAH campus, says Taylor Myers, UAH’s sustainability coordinator.

"These locations include the athletic complex, the Greenway, and the new parking lot along John Wright Drive," Myers says.

Twenty maples were planted along John Wright Drive at an event hosted by the Sustainability Office and UAH Grounds Management.

"A local breakfast was served before student volunteers paired up with the grounds members to finish planting the 20 maples," Myers says. "It was a great event."

"Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment," says Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all."

In addition, in 2017 eight UAH Grounds Management employees were certified in urban forestry.

Some trees on campus have identifying signage, a project Redmon took on himself by using labeling equipment in the university’s sign shop.

"There are trees that are identified; not all are though," he says. "It takes too much time for one person with the old sign equipment that I used back then. That would be a good project to implement as part of our Tree Campus USA certification."

The designation is recognition of the work from Grounds Management, the Campus Architect and the Sustainability Program, all of which are parts of Facilities and Operations, under the leadership of Associate Vice President Mark Cowherd.

"Our campus’ tree canopy is an amazing resource and something I take great pride in working to preserve and grow." Myers says. "Plus, in celebration of Arbor Day, the UAH Sustainability Program will be handing out tree seedlings to students, faculty and staff! Be on the lookout!"