Police Department employees stand with Facilities members with Tree Campus USA banner and newly planted treeJune 9, 2022—Because of its ongoing commitment to the 1,579 trees and about 90 species on campus, the Arbor Day Foundation has named CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) a Tree Campus USA for the 10th year in a row.  

CSUCI is among 411 campuses across the nation to earn the Tree Campus USA distinction for their work in 2021. The annual recognition is for campuses whose members develop and maintain a healthy tree canopy and create programs to make the tree population sustainable.  

“Trees not only play a vital role in the environment but also in our daily lives,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Having trees on college and university campuses is a great way to show a commitment to students and faculty’s overall well-being.” 

CSUCI earned the distinction by observing five basic components listed by Tree Campus Higher Education. They include annual monies set aside for the campus tree program, maintaining a tree advisory committee, coordinating an annual Arbor Day observance, and arranging a student service-learning project connected with the campus trees. 

“I think this is a great honor,” said Sustainability Manager Roxanne Beigel-Coryell. “It’s really exciting to see that our campus has put such a priority caring for our trees for an entire decade.” 

Landscape Manager Jason Hughes credited Beigel-Coryell, CSUCI students and gardening specialists Juan Cardenas and Eric Nicasio with keeping up the standards that enabled CSUCI to receive this designation for 10 years in a row. He also gave credit to the 14 dedicated staff members who maintain and manage the more than 100 acres of gardens, parks and athletic fields year-round. 

Included in the work of the Facilities team is the care and maintenance of the additional 2,326 trees in University Glen, the housing development adjacent to the University.  

“Our landscape maintenance crews were still on campus during the pandemic, allowing continued care and health of the campus tree inventory,” Hughes said.  

The native trees planted this year included southern live oaks, southern magnolias, California sycamore trees and California pepper trees, but climate change and the ongoing drought make it challenging to maintain the trees, even if they are native to California, Beigel-Coryell said.  

“Sometimes there are trees that might be native to the area, but we’ve seen over the years that some do well and some don’t,” she said. “Just because something is native doesn’t mean it will adapt well to climate change.” 

The Arbor Day 2021 observance involved students from the Green Generation Club and Facilities staff planting two magnolia trees in front of Placer Hall, where the CSUCI Police are housed.  

A big part of qualifying as a Tree Campus is a solid plan for increasing and maintaining the tree canopy on campus, which includes the expertise of local expert arborist John Fleming of Greene Tree Care in Camarillo. With guidance and input from Hughes, Fleming plans and tracks the campus tree plan with a software program.  

“It’s a way of keeping inventory of the trees, which can streamline the work we do,” Fleming said. “Jason is very hands-on, and keeps tabs on what needs to be done, then we do an analysis. This way, we have a consistent management and inventory mapping program.  

Fleming said planning with care provides not only a beautiful campus, but a campus that is healthy for people and the overall environment.   

“Trees can help us fight climate change and reduce carbon,” Fleming said. “They provide shade and cooling and are a great habitat for a variety of species. Trees also add so much value to a property.” 

The goal for next year, Hughes said, is to add more trees along the main entrance to the campus on University Drive and around the playing fields in the north part of the property, adding that “landscape services is looking forward to another successful year and the continued care of CSUCI open space areas for all the campus community to enjoy.” 

For more on Tree Campus USA: https://www.arborday.org/programs/tree-campus-higher-education/.  

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