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Projects Updates for Tree Campus Higher Education

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  1. Illini Oak-Hickory Teaching Arboretum StoryMap

    Associated Project(s): 

    Jay Hayek, Extension Forestry Specialist, compiled all the information and effort for the 1.5-acre oak-hickory teaching arboretum. The story map below contains information on the two phases of planting and great pictures of the volunteers that contributed. In addition to the story map, there is an attached Excel spreadsheet detailing the exact species in their respective plots. 


    ArcGIS StoryMap:



  2. News Gazette: Kathy's Mailbag- Younger trees on the UI Quad

    Below is a snippet from Kathy's #Mailbag, from August 19th, 2022, published in the News-Gazette regarding the foliage on the University's main quad. Brent Lewis and Ryan Welch of UI Facilities and Services were featured and shared information on the history and approach to plantings on campus. 

    The article can also be found at:


    Younger trees on the UI Quad

    "As I walked through the University of Illinois’ Main Quad recently, I noticed that most of the trees did not seem as old as I would expect. What is the history of the trees on the quad? Have there always been trees there? When were the current batch of trees planted?"

    A short history, courtesy of grounds superintendent Ryan Welch and landscape architect Brent Lewis, both with UI Facilities & Services:

    In 1929, the Board of Trustees took the advice of renowned landscape architect Ferruccio Vitale, who warned that planting a wide variety of trees on the Quad “would tend to minimize the impressiveness and the serenity of the planting design.”

    Elm trees were a traditional choice that did well in local conditions. “No tree is more majestic nor better adapted in form and in scale to form the setting of the University's new buildings,” Vitale said. So the walkways on the Quad were lined with elms sometime around 1930. Over the years, they were lost to Dutch elm disease and phloem necrosis (elm yellows). The last elm trees were removed in 1956. 


    The elms were replaced with thornless honey locusts. This tree was selected for its large mature size; light, dappled shade produced by the lacy foliage; tolerance to a wide range of soil conditions and drought; and yellow fall color. Only six honey locusts remain on the main quad from the 1956 planting.

    A variety of native oak trees replaced trees that were removed. Most of the recent plantings include chinquapin, swamp white and bur oak.

    The university’s current strategy is to diversify the tree plantings with native species and avoid overplanting any one type of tree. Welch and Lewis note that the current diversity of plantings on campus is “very high and is on par with most arboretums.”

    Diversifying the campus’ tree inventory turned out to be a wise decision. Between 2015 and 2020, more than 500 of the UI’s ash trees – about 3% of the campus’ tree inventory – were removed due to the damage caused and risk posed by the emerald ash borer. The wide variety of trees on campus meant that the loss of even 500 ash trees did not leave large swaths of the campus looking barren.

    Plant geeks may view the campus’ tree plan and get to the tree inventory database at

  3. Tree Map Partnership

    From: Heidi Leuszler <HLeuszler at>
    Subject: Tree Map partnership


    Hello all, I hope this finds you and yours well!


    I am on the Sustainable Campus Committee at Parkland College and we are discussing updating our campus tree map and digitizing it. I am including all of you in this email because I am wondering if we do not have to recreate the wheel and can join an existing tree map in our community.


    I have worked with in the past, but the $3000 price tag per year is rather steep for us. Do any of you use this program?


    In a quick search, I found the following local Tree Inventory maps (all of which Parkland campus is missing from):

    City of Urbana

    UIUC campus

    City of Champaign ROW Trees

    City of Champaign 

    Champaign Park District

    Urbana Park District (but I could not find public access to the inventory)


    Is it possible we can add our campus data to an existing map? Perhaps we all partner and can add city, park, and campus data to make a more comprehensive community map.


    If you are interested in this, have thoughts, know a better person to contact, etc., let me know and we can get a meeting together to discuss possibilities.


    Thank you!

    My best,


  4. 2021 Tree Campus Higher Education Application Approved by the Arbor Day Foundation

    Associated Project(s): 

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has once again been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA member. Specifically, the Tree Campus High Education program reviewed the Tree Care Plan, in addition to other requirements, to grant our campus the title of an offical Tree Campus. Below is a brief summary of what is needed to obtain this recoginition, each year. 

    "To obtain this distinction, your campus has met the five core standards for sustainable campus forestry required by Tree Campus Higher Education, including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for your campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service learning projects. Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship."


  5. Campus Tree Advisory Committee Meeting - February 2022

    Associated Project(s): 

    On February 10, 2022, the 2022 Campus Tree Advisory Committee met to complete the following:

    • Review the charge letter
    • Discuss the success of the 2022 Tree Campus Plan
    • Plan Arbor Day 2022 events
    • Discuss policy revisions regarding tree damage replacements
    • Discuss the creation of a campus nursery

    See the attached file to read the meeting notes. 

  6. 2022 Tree Committee Formed

    Associated Project(s): 

    The 2022 Tree Committee is now formed.

    Serving on this committee are the following individuals: Kevin McSweeney (chair), Brent Lewis, Morgan White, Ryan Welch, Jay Hayek, Andrew Lamoreux, Eliana Brown, Sinead Soltis, Julia Marsaglia, and Jack Reicherts. In the 2022 Tree Committee Charge letter, Dr. Ehab Kamara defines the responsibilities and duties for the advisory body.

    See the charge letter in the attached files.

  7. Tree Campus USA application approved at the state level

    Associated Project(s): 

    The University of Illinois’ Tree Campus USA application has been approved at the state level! From there, the Arbor Day Foundation will receive our application for review and for final approval. Each year, the Campus Tree Advisory Committee submits a Tree Care Plan to the foundation to uphold our Tree Campus USA status. 


    Below are some kind words from Mike Brunk, from the Illinois DNR, after reviewing the Tree Care Plan that included the various projects on the horizon and the progress made throughout 2021.


    “Excellent Plan and some challenging and productive Service Learning projects.  The south Arboretum is a big project, and the LA internships for creating greenspace designs and selecting tree locations sounds like it is fun especially knowing that there is funding support for the installation of their plans.

    …And the new canopy study looks like it will create some interesting information for you to plan with.”

  8. A Visual Story of Illinois' New Champion Carolina Silverbell

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Hayek, Jay C <jhayek at>
    To: White, Morgan <mbwhite at>; Lewis, Brent C <bcl at>; McSweeney, Kevin <mcsween at>; Soltis, Sinead (FandS) <fandsssolti2 at>
    Subject: A Visual Story of Illinois' New Champion Carolina Silverbell (Not for Public Consumption Yet)


    Morning Everyone:


    Below is an ArcGIS StoryMap project that I’ve been working on recently.  I haven’t made it totally “public” yet as I’m asking for feedback on how it loads and looks on your computers/devices.


    Title: A Visual Story of Illinois' New Champion Carolina Silverbell




    Best regards,

    Jay C. Hayek, Extension Forestry Specialist

    SAWW Certified Chainsaw Safety Trainer

    Chairman; IL Forestry Development Council

    Dept. of Natural Resources & Env. Sciences

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    Office: (217) 244-0534

    Emailjhayek at



     instagram    linkedin   facebook  



    Standard US Mailing Address

    W-521 Turner Hall (MC-047)

    1102 S. Goodwin Ave.

    Urbana, IL 61801


    Packages: UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL

    W-512A Turner Hall (MC-047)

    1102 S. Goodwin Ave.

    Urbana, IL 61801


  9. Budget for NRES Replacement Trees

    Jay Hayek reached out to request access to funds to purchase some replacement trees for the NRES Oak-Hickory Arboretum at the southwest corner of Race & Windsor. Specifically, Hayek is looking to purchase 37 3 gallon & 3 gallon CG (conservation grade) oak and hickory trees. Price range $13-20/each for the desired size and species. He is wondering if he would be able to buy the trees online using his P-card and then do an internal funds transfer, or if the purchase order route is preferable. 

  10. F&S Insider features Campus Tree inventory & State Champion Carolina Silverbell

    Associated Project(s): 

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, according to the U of I Master Plan, measures more than a whopping 8,000 acres of land in the Master Plan Area. On that land grows too many trees to count… or so you thought.

    F&S helps count and maintain all 16,534 trees on U of I grounds. All are viewable through the U of I’s “TreeKeeper” database:

    That includes more than one “State Champion” tree – meaning it is the largest of its species in Illinois.

    “These trees, and all of them on campus, are valuable and a privilege to take care of,” said Brent Lewis, F&S landscape architect. “Having champions on campus shows the ability of our grounds professionals to carefully tend to their needs over many decades of time, ultimately allowing them to grow into the great specimens that we often take for granted.”

    The Carolina Silverbell in the backyard of the President’s House is the latest state champion tree on campus, joining the yellowwood found in the green space north of Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall, which attained champion status on Arbor Day 2019.

    In April, UIUC experts and students visited and measured the tree, confirming its status as the largest tree of its kind in the state.

    “The two multi-stemmed specimens behind the President’s House are the two largest specimens of this species I’ve personally seen. Granted, I don’t come across this species very often,” said Jay Hayek, extension forestry specialist with the department of natural sciences and environmental sciences. “Carolina Silverbell is considered a state-listed endangered species here in Illinois. Its natural range is limited to just two southern Illinois counties: Massac and Pulaski. It’s not that Carolina silverbell is necessarily so ‘rare,’ it’s just that this species is simply at the extreme edge of its natural range by extending ever so slightly into the southern tip of Illinois. Even in its more natural habitat, this species is relatively uncommon.”

    Since 2015, Illinois has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA, meaning the colleges and universities that most effectively manage their campus trees in an academic atmosphere. The F&S executive director charges the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency outreach effort to plan forestry efforts. The Illinois Tree Campus plan is available at All aid in the effort to promote healthy trees on campus and engagement with students, faculty, staff, and community members in the spirit of conservation.

    Three key measurements are taken: the trunk’s circumference 4.5 feet above the ground, total height, and the average “crown spread,” which is how far the branches grow out. The tree’s “total score” is equivalent to the circumference (in inches) + height (in feet) + the average crown spread (in feet) multiplied by 0.25.

    The new champion tree measurements:

    Circumference = 5.57 feet or 66.8 inches • Total Height = 60 feet • Crown Spread: 54.8 feet

    Total Score = 140.5 points



    Via F&S Insider,