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Projects Updates for Campus Tree Inventory

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  1. 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

  2. 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,


  3. 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. 

  4. Updated list of student projects that need YOU!!

    This is a list of projects that need students to work on.  It will be updated periodically by sustainability staff members, the last update was 9/16/21:

    • The campus MS4 stormwater permit currently has 49 Best Management Practices (BMPs) that have to be completed annually . One of the 49 BMPs is a Public Education and Outreach requirement to broadcast or publish one stormwater Public Service Announcement (PSA) on social media, radio, television and/or internet. We currently have a couple on our website and would like to keep it up to date with new materials whenever possible. Another opportunity is for a Public Participation and Involvement BMP to discuss and provide opportunity for public input on the Storm Water Program (permit BMPs), climate change and environmental justice topics. This could be met by webinars, PSAs, posters, etc. Contact is Betsy Liggett. ~ Morgan
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Huff Hall. ~ Meredith
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Armory. ~ Meredith
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Bevier Hall. ~ Meredith
    • CCNet Website: Work with the Champaign County Sustainability Network (CCNet) leadership team to redesign and publish the CCNet website (old version is online at There is a monthly brown bag sustainability networking event on the Third Thursday of each month, but the website hasn't been updated since 2016. Contact Morgan White at mbwhite at ~ Morgan
    • We are seeking a student volunteer who can do tree identification for a series of trees in the Arboretum, and work with the University Landscape Architect, Brent Lewis, and the Superintendent of Grounds, Ryan Welch, to compare the tree identification to the draft tree inventory. Contact Morgan White at mbwhite at ~ Morgan
    • Help iSEE develop a Sustainability Literacy Assessment. Contact Meredith Moore, mkm007 at ~Meredith
    • Help iSEE work with Student Sustainability Committee grant to expand small scale campus composting. Contact Meredith Moore at mkm0078 at ~ Meredith
    • This project is a collaboration with the Illinois State Section of the American Planning Association; we have been asked to create a community land use and revitalization plan for a small town in Kankakee County.  It is a rural community, predominantly people of color, originally settled by folks leaving the South during the Great Migration.  There are many layers to the story, but it is ultimately a story of environmental equity as The Nature Conservancy and Field Museum have been collaborating with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to acquire land to create the Black Oak Savana nature preserve.  The majority of residents are opposed to this preserve, primarily because land has been purchased via tax sale and foreclosure, therefore taking land out of Black ownership.  This also further burdens remaining property owners because the nature preserve land becomes tax exempt, shifting the property taxes that are no longer paid on nature preserve property to a smaller and smaller portion of land owners.  

      Students interested in this project could assist with GIS analysis and help identify opportunities to balance environmental sustainability goals and land preservation with social and economic sustainability goals and to identify economic opportunities that accomplish all three.  Contact Lacey Rains Lowe at lacey.rains <at>

    • Expand on existing statistical analysis with ArcGIS and spreadsheets of potential race/income disparities in provision of street trees, sidewalks, urban heat, parks, bus stops, etc.  Data sets provided. Contact is Scott Tess at srtess <at>

    • LIVESTOCK FACILITY DECOMMISSIONING at the Imported Swine Research Laboratory - The push to expand the UI Research Park will require decommissioning of the waste lagoons associated with the Imported Swine Research Laboratory (ISRL). This presents an nice opportunity for a class to develop and design a decommissioning plan with associated costs and timeline. Colleen Ruhter is the point of contact, cruhter <at>

    If you have a project idea, please contact us at, or submit it through the iCAP Portal Suggestions page.

  5. Article: What It Takes to Be a Champion

    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. F&S helps count and maintain all 16,534 trees on U of I grounds. That includes more than one “State Champion” tree – meaning it is the largest of its species in Illinois.

    Read more about U of I's champion trees on campus on the F&S Website or the PDF in the attached files!

  6. Update on Campus' Tree Inventory

    Brent Lewis provided the following update to the Land and Water iCAP Team:

    One of the iCAP objectives under Land and Water (4.2.1) involves a service learning project to better understand our historic and current tree canopy percentages.  I just wanted to reach out and say that I’ve worked it out with our NRES faculty member, Jennifer Fraterrigo that she will work with her students in the fall to prepare this analysis.  As our last 2 tree surveys were generally on 2008 and 2018, they will take a look at those years and put together an analysis.  Over this time, I believe we lost between 10-12% of our tree inventory on campus.  It is my thought that this loss in older trees would have meant a much larger loss in actual tree canopy.  This would generally equate to a loss of habitat, increase in ambient temperatures and increase in rainwater that would otherwise have been used by the trees.  I have been wanting to get a handle on the loss as I push for resources to replace what we had, as well as enhance what we will have for the future.

  7. Archived info - previous project description

    Associated Project(s): 

    This project will document existing trees on campus, using a GPS device and collecting tree details into the ArcGIS data layer.  The existing Tree Inventory was last updated in 2006, so it includes trees that have subsequently been removed and it is missing new trees that have been planted.  Through this project, the Tree Inventory will be updated to include all and only existing trees on campus.

  8. Tree Campus USA Celebration - Zoom Meeting

    Thank you to everyone who joined us live or watches later on the CCNet Facebook page!  We enjoyed a great turnout for the Tree Campus USA Celebration, with about 35 people on the Zoom call and a reach of 365 on Facebook.

    This event included a review of the five years that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been designated as a Tree Campus USA, by Brent Lewis. Senior in Integrative Biology student, Maddie Smith, presented the results of her diversity analysis for the campus' urban forest, and the F&S Tree Surgeons, Dustin Reifsteck and Sky Drewes, answered tree-related questions.  At the end of the hour, community announcements included Arbor Day and Earth Month events coming up.

    Celebrate National Arbor Day next week on April 24, 2020!

    Links from announcements and presentation

    The event concluded with a round of thanks, and several were captured in the chat log.

    12:56:43     From  Eliana Brown : Thank you to the Grounds Dept!
    12:58:28     From  Samantha Fisher : Thank you for this presentation! I really enjoy your monthly presentations.
    13:00:02     From  Stacy Gloss : Thanks CCNET for a great presentation today. Awesome collaborative effort.  Everyone have a great day!
    13:00:33     From  ekamarah : Thank you everyone for these interesting presentations and conversations. Have a great day.
    13:00:37     From  Brent Lewis : Yes, thank you everyone!
    13:00:49     From  Eliana Brown : Thank you, everyone! Great job!
    13:01:08     From  pattsi : Stay well everyone
    13:01:12     From  Marya Ryan : Yes, great presentations! So glad to reconnect with CCNet after a few years away.
    13:01:24     From  Miranda Vieson : Thanks!
    13:01:25     From  Marcus Ricci : It was a great presentation, with all of the different presenters nicely tying in to the theme. The Q&A was cool.
    13:01:26     From  Jenna Kurtzweil : Thanks, everyone!!
    13:01:26     From  Kate Gardiner : Love CCNet, thanks Morgan!

  9. Eco Talk: The perils of the Bradford pear tree


    Eco Talk: The perils of the Bradford pear tree

    Bradford pear trees

    Bradford pear trees. Deposit Photos

    Judy Wright Special to The Citizen Jan 23, 2020 Updated 16 min ago

    As I write this column today, I am thinking about spring and looking forward to the flowering trees when spring does arrive. I am hopeful, as the up-and-down temperatures of this winter have caused some trees that bloom early to have their flower buds start to swell. I am sure we can remember some springs when the flowering trees either did not flower or their flowers were fewer in number than normal because a hard cold snap that damaged the swollen flower buds.

    One of the trees I used to look forward to seeing is now considered by some, and justifiably so, to be an invasive species. Unfortunately, the Bradford pear, also referred to as a callery pear, was planted just about everywhere in the 1990s because of its dense cone shape and white flowers. I recall seeing them everywhere, and how pretty the trees were when flowering. These trees were also chosen, at one time, as the urban tree of the year!

    Since then, we have learned that these trees, in spite of their visual appeal, did not come without problems. Imported from China in the 1960s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an ornamental tree, they produce an unpleasant scent when flowering. Also, the branches and even the trunks are very weak and can break under snow, ice and even a strong wind. To counteract this weakness, other varieties of the Bradford pear were quickly introduced.

    At the time of their introduction as an ornamental tree, it was assumed the Bradford pear trees were sterile and would not produce any fruit. Part of that was correct, they do not produce fruit. however, as the newer, stronger varieties were introduced, it was later learned that they would cross-pollinate with the older varieties, and now they have become an environmental threat in eastern forests. Apparently, the newer varieties of Bradford pears would produce fruit that birds would eat, carry into the forest and deposit the seeds, which would grow.

    As the seeds grow into seedlings, the new plants carry the older genetics of the older callery pears, which produce thorns measuring up to 4 inches. It is reported that these thorns are very sturdy and can even destroy tractor tires! Once established, the thickets take over native forest trees like dogwoods, maples, oaks and redbud. Many of these native tree species produce fruit that is nutritious and palatable to birds and other animals, while the callery pear fruit has little nutritional value.

    So now you may realize you have a problem growing in your landscape and want to get rid of it. Suggested steps are to first cut the tree down and grind the root out. They will produce shoots or suckers from any remaining root pieces, so you will need to be vigilant and mow them off. They will continue to send shoots up for at least two years before all the root reserves are exhausted. Be vigilant!

    Once the shoots have stopped, consider replanting something more environmentally beneficial, such as maple or other shade trees. Redbuds or serviceberry will provide spring flowers, and Japanese maples are visually appealing. Many landscapers realize the damage the Bradford pears are causing and will not plant them. Recognizing the serious environmental problems the Bradford pears were causing, the state of Ohio passed legislation in 2018 stopping the sale or distribution of any callery pears by 2023.

    By the way, there are reported to be about 3,000 species of pear worldwide. Pears are relatives of apples and are a member of the rose family. They are native to Asia and Europe, and are reported to have arrived in America with the colonists when New England was settled in the 1600s.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I will write about an invasive species that we should be aware of. Invasive species are a significant problem all around the world. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlif/e Service, invasive species are costing the U.S. billions of dollars in damages each year.

    While this is staggering, if we each take time to learn about invasive species and then take steps to control those we can manage, such as removing Bradford pear trees even though they are pretty to look at when flowering, we may be able to stem the loss of valuable native species.

    Judy Wright is the senior agriculture specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Seneca County. For more information, visit or call (315) 539-9251 ext. 109.

  10. Social Media Coordination between Red Oak Rain Garden and Tree Walk

    Hort Club is going to host an event on the April 25th (Thursday of Earth Week) for campus community members to try out the walk. Basically, we are just setting up a table on the quad and inviting everyone to come out, get the brochure/explore TreeKeeper, and do the self-guided tour. If you would like to share this event with your colleagues, that would be wonderful! I think it would be great if we had as many students, faculty, and CU community members as possible invited. I've attached a digital flyer to this email, and the link to the Facebook event: Illinois Earth Week Quad Tree Walk.


    -- Maddie Smith

  11. 18F Semesterly Report - Student-led census of the Trelease Woods Forest Dynamics Plot

    1. Purchase of Census Materials (06/30/18): We have purchased all the equipment and materials needed for the census. Some additional small purchases may be needed near the completion of the census (nails, tags, replacement tape measurements and flagging tape) due to wear and tear.
    2. Recruitment of undergraduate student census workers (08/14/18). We recruited 34 undergraduate students from SIB, NRES, AHS and Animal Sciences to work on the census. Students spent 4-8 hours a week tagging, mapping and identifying trees. So far, we have recruited 33 students to work on the census during Spring semester 2019. About half will be returning students and will both work on the census and do independent research projects in Trelease related to the census.
    3. Student orientation and training (08/21/18): Training was completed as planned. In addition we gave students quizzes on the census methods and spent time in the field with the students throughout the semester.
    4. Development of project website (10/15/18): We have initiated the website. We will continue to build content for the website during the first part of the Spring semester whilst it is too cold to do the census.
    5. Completion of the first 12 ha of census (11/9/18): We started the census at the south side of Trelease woods, which has very high stem densities. This has slowed down progress through the plot. We have now completed around 4 ha. We will resume work when temperatures warm later in the Spring semester. We anticipate requesting additional funds this summer from LAS and ACES to allow students to work on the census over the summer break.
  12. update on tree inventory

    Associated Project(s): 

    Davey Tree's staff person is averaging 214 trees per day.  He started at University Avenue and is working his way south.  Currently he is at Armory Avenue.  Depending on the number of trees on campus, he could be done by the end of September.

  13. Update from Davey Tree

    Associated Project(s): 

    Here is an update on the progress of the tree inventory. Tree Count - 1,117


    I began on the north side of campus as we discussed in our kickoff meeting, and have started working south. I have completed most everything north of Green St. I will continue to work my way south next week. See attached file.

    Next week I will also start to do some data quality checks and will include some of that reporting in these update emails. If you have any questions, please let me know.

    Reid Gibson, Project Manager, Davey Resource Group, ISA Certified Arborist/Municipal Specialist, IL-5319AM ISA, Tree Risk Assessment Qualified

    Attached Files: