U of U Tree Climbers Taking Us to New Heights

The University of Utah has been recognized as a 2014 Tree Campus USA.

Tree Campus USA is a national program that was launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota. The program honors colleges and universities, as well as their their leaders, for promoting healthy trees.

To obtain this recognition, the University of Utah met the five core standards for effective campus forest management:

  • A tree advisory committee
  • A campus tree-care plan
  • A dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program
  • An Arbor Day observance
  • A Student service-learning project.

Facilities Management is proud of our dedicated Landscape workers and their sustained commitment to environmental stewardship.

Because of this award, FM wanted to recognize Landscape Maintenance and highlight the work they do. A team of dedicated tree climbers and tree maintenance staff has worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of trees on campus and because of them campus has never looked better.

a worker from landscape maintenance begins to ascend one of the many trees on campus

a member of landscape maintenance at the top of one of the trees on campusBefore this year, most tree assessment and maintenance was done from the ground. While they did the best they could, the tree crew was not able to truly get a sense of what was going on with the trees on campus from the low vantage point. Grounds saw need for some changes; without, proper knowledge of a trees decay, they were not able to take proper safety and removal precautions.

This year, Grounds began training a team of tree climbers that would be able to assess the tree from above and remove decay much more easily.

“If a limb or tree is showing 60% decay, it is no longer safe and needs to be removed,” says Josh Estheimer, Lead Climber. “From above we are able to get a better idea of the situation and take action before it’s too late.”

landscape maintenance staff lowers a stump from a tree on campus to assess its health

the stumps shows signs of rotThe tree team is now able to do the entire assessment, maintenance, and removal themselves. In the past this kind of work would have been contracted to outside tree specialists. “[Doing the work in-house] allows us to be much more proactive with our budget,” Lorenzo Lopez, a Crew Leader with Landscape Maintenance said.

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Shireen Ghorbani