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Tree Campus USA

Wenatchee Valley College (WVC) enriches North Central Washington by serving educational and cultural needs of communities and residents throughout the service area. The college provides high-quality transfer, liberal arts, professional/technical, basic skills and continuing education for students of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds.

WVC goals in becoming a tree campus USA are to effectively manage campus trees, connect with the surrounding community to foster healthy urban forests, and engage students with service-learning opportunities centered on caring for trees.

A diversity of well-managed trees on campus provides multiple benefits for Wenatchee Valley College and our community:

  • Tree varieties will be labelled as an opportunity to learn more about arboreal biodiversity;
  • Trees provide shade, wind breaks, clean air, and beauty for students and staff;
  • Trees help fight climate change by drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and storing it;
  • Trees provide habitat for animals and insects;
  • Trees create a more sustainable environment for all to enjoy!

Purpose

The purpose of the WVC campus tree care plan is to identify the policies, procedures, and practices that are used in establishing, protecting, maintaining, and removing trees on the Wenatchee and Omak WVC campuses.  The overall goal of the plan is to ensure a safe, attractive, and sustainable campus treescape.  The specific objectives of the plan are to: 

  • Ensure proper species selection prioritizing educational needs of botany instructors and students, high-quality nursery stock acquisition, and industry consensus planting procedures.
  • Increase tree species diversity on campus, ensuring that all of our regionally appropriate trees are well-represented.
  • Protect high-value campus trees during construction and renovation projects.
  • Promote tree health and safety through designated tree management practices when maintaining campus trees.
  • Ensure that trees are reasonably replaced when there is mortality due to weather, pest infestations, injury, or construction displacement.
  • Generate an updated map, locating and identifying trees by genus and species when possible. Label trees with genus and species that are dedicated to 25-year employees.
  • Encourage campus community members to respect and value our campus treescape.

At Wenatchee Valley College, we recognize that our trees are not only highly valuable assets but in fact they are living treasures that enhance the well-being of students, faculty, staff and the greater Wenatchee community. For these reasons, we acknowledge and appreciate that our trees belong to all of us. The care of them, therefore, is a shared responsibility. The grounds department affirms its responsibility to be transparent in the maintenance practices used and the plan for the campus arboretum going forward, as well as the responsibility of the Wenatchee Valley College community to respect and advocate for the trees. This document can serve as a guide for upholding these responsibilities.

Parties Responsible

Wenatchee Valley College has a full-time employee as a maintenance mechanic and head of grounds. The grounds department is responsible for the implementation of and adherence to the Tree Care Plan, as well as making routine decisions regarding tree care in collaboration with the WVC tree committee and consultation from local tree care professionals. Decisions regarding removal of trees over 6 inches in DBH (diameter at breast height) are made in consultation with the Director of Facilities and Operations, as well as the Tree Committee.

Current Personnel (2019):

  • Thomas Martin, head of grounds Wenatchee Campus
  • Glen Lisenby, head of grounds Omak Campus
  • Rich Peters, director of facilities and operations

Campus Tree Advisory Committee

WVC Sustainability Coordinator, Joan Qazi, chairs a tree advisory committee known as the Wenatchee Valley College Tree Committee. The committee is comprised of dedicated community members representing WVC students, faculty and facilities management as well as interested members of the greater Wenatchee community.

2019 Members:

  • Thomas Martin, head of grounds
  • Rich Peters, director of facilities and operations
  • Sandy Letzing, certified arborist and community member
  • Joan Qazi, sustainability coordinator and faculty
  • Jennifer Hadersberger, faculty
  • Derek Sheffield, faculty
  • Mike Lesky, faculty and certified arborist
  • Livia Millard, diversity coordinator and faculty
  • Jocelyn Vincent Ramsey, faculty
  • Betsy Dudash, landscape horticulturalist and community member
  • Kal Cummings, ASWVC student

The role of the committee is to plan for the Arbor Day event and service learning opportunities, provide guidance for campus tree management plan, create connections with the wider community, and education about trees on campus.

Terms of representatives are one year and then up for renewal in September of following year.

Tree Care Policies

Planting:

  • As the campus is used as a teaching lab, increasing the diversity of tree species is extremely important. WVC’s tree planting policy ensures that our regionally appropriate trees are well-represented. Native varieties are likely to comprise about 25% of tree stock, with remaining percentage being naturalized or appropriately hardy specimen or ornamental trees that will thrive in our hardiness zone and contribute to the overall biodiversity of the arboretum.
  • The facilities director and the grounds manager maintain a map detailing appropriate locations for future tree plantings. Many of these are former sites of large native trees that failed in past storms and can, to some extent, be reforested; others are areas chosen with specific ornamental trees in mind. These sites are selected on the basis of planned future construction, known species needs and local soil structure, among other concerns and environmental factors.
  • Proper planting begins with healthy planting stock. All plants will be inspected before installation and carefully examined for potential issues, including but not limited to, defects, broken branches, girdling roots, diseases and pests. Plant selection will adhere to ANSI Z60.1 (Standards for Nursery Stock).
  • Trees and other woody plants must be planted properly. It is imperative that the trunk flare be level with or just above the existing grade. On nursery stock, the trunk flare is often covered or buried within the root ball. To find it, carefully remove from the root ball the top layer of soil until the primary structural roots are just exposed. Measuring from the trunk flare to the bottom of the root ball determines the appropriate depth of the planting hole. The planting hole should be 2-3 times the diameter of the root ball, and no deeper than the distance from the bottom of the root ball to the first structural root. The bottom of the planting hole should slope upward like a bowl.\

Cultural Practices:

  • All trees 6 inches DBH and smaller that are planted in turf areas will have a mulch bed to protect the tree from damage from mowers and other equipment. Where practical, larger plantings in planter beds will be mulched with wood chips.
  • There is no regular tree fertilization beyond treatment received as a result of fall lawn fertilization. Specimen or high-value trees may receive prescription fertilization when severe nutrient deficiencies are diagnosed.
  • Trees are treated for pest problems as needed. The management of tree pests always begins with (A) correct identification of both the plant and the pest and (B) ongoing regular monitoring of all plants and their sites. Tree pests may include insects, mites, viruses, weeds, plant diseases, mammals and birds. Integrated pest management provides methods and thresholds for identifying when these potential pests become actual pests and solutions for preventing that threshold being exceeded without resorting to eradication strategies.

Maintenance and Pruning:

  • Pruning is always done with a clearly defined purpose. This purpose may be one or many of the following: health, safety, appearance, clearance, line of sight. Where applicable, trees are pruned for 3 feet of clearance from any structure or utility, 6 feet of clearance over turf areas, 8 feet of clearance over sidewalks, 12 feet of clearance over parking spaces and 14 feet of clearance over roadways.
  • Pruning is always performed in accordance with ANSI A300 Pruning Standards (American National Standard for Tree Care Operations).
  • The maintenance pruning schedule shall be dictated by tree species, age, function, and placement. Trees less than 7 years old should receive structural pruning on an annual or biennial basis. Trees 7-20 years old should receive structural pruning every two to five years. Trees 20-60 years old receive maintenance pruning every five to seven years to clean dead, diseased, dying and defective branches from the crown. Trees adjacent to roadways, walkways, signs and street lights are annually inspected for safety and clearance issues and pruned as necessary.

Tree Removal:

  • Tree removal is an important part of maintaining a safe and functional campus landscape. However, it is only a last resort and the decision to remove a tree is not taken lightly.
  • There are many reasons why a tree may need to be removed. Each tree will be evaluated and considered for removal on a case-by-case basis. The criteria listed below is used by the campus arborist and the grounds manager when evaluating trees for possible removal. The criteria are not listed in order of importance and individually may not justify removal:
    • The tree is dead or dying; or
    • The tree is deemed hazardous and the hazard cannot be eliminated through pruning or other reasonable arboricultural practices.
  • When trees are not deemed dead, dying or hazardous, the following factors will be considered:
    • Maturity and life expectancy of the tree;
    • Desirability of the tree species;
    • Amount of space allowable for tree growth;
    • Overall quality and structural integrity of the tree;
    • Persistent insect, disease or fruiting problems;
    • Frequency and extensiveness of the tree’s maintenance requirements;
    • Feasibility and timeliness in which a replacement tree will be planted;
    • Proximity and quality of trees near to the one considered for removal;
    • Quality and extent of past pruning and other tree maintenance practices;
    • Extent and frequency of damage the tree is causing to surrounding infrastructure; and
    • Location of the tree regarding hardscape features such as sidewalks, light poles and buildings.
    • Necessity of space related to construction.
  • When grounds personnel determine that a tree must be removed, and if the tree in question is larger than 6 inches DBH and is in a landscape setting, the certified arborist will submit a recommendation for removal to the head of grounds or head of facilities.
  1. Recommended and Prohibited Plantings:
  • A recommended species list is being developed in consultation with faculty who use certain tree varieties to assist in their teaching activities.
  • Based on the vernacular of the site, some landscapes will be planted in native species while others may include exotics.
  • Known invasive woody plants are consciously avoided in tree planting plans.
  • The following varieties are currently prohibited for planting on WVC campus:
    • Any variety of Malus
    • Trees of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
    • Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila)
    • Russian Olive.2 (Eaeagnus augustifolia)
    • Chanticleer pear (Pyrus calleryana)

Managing for Catastrophic Events:

  • WVC recognizes the safety and well-being of the campus community as our highest priority. We have put in place the staff, planning and resources necessary to respond effectively to a broad range of possible emergencies. In the event of a campus emergency, information updates will be available through our homepage at www.wvc.edu and through email messages sent to students, parents, faculty and staff. In addition, one can also access an Emergency Response FAQ.
  • When storms or other events impact trees, the grounds department coordinates with the safety specialist and campus security to address safety and accessibility concerns. Fallen limbs or trees will be removed in as timely a manner as possible by grounds personnel and/or a contracted tree care service. Roadways and parking access will be cleared first followed by access to critical administrative and student buildings.

Tree Protection and Preservation

In all cases, trees are to be protected and preserved as valuable assets and infrastructure and as valued community members.

  • All trees within and around construction zones must be protected from damage while any construction projects are underway, however extensive the project. This is the responsibility of the general contractor hired by the College for the completion of the construction project, under the supervision of the facilities director. The general contractor is responsible for any construction-related damage done to any tree of any size, even if caused by a subcontractor, and will provide compensation for all damages. This includes negligence.
  • If the construction project is carried out in-house, all tree protection measures are the responsibility of the WVC personnel involved in construction, under the supervision of the campus arborist.
  • In all cases, it is the responsibility of the facilities director to work with WVC’s project manager to communicate and enforce the expectations and standards outlined in the tree protection policy.
  • All outdoor construction and maintenance projects must be evaluated for impact on the existing landscape, including the trees in the area and in the route used to access the area.

 Goals & Targets

  1. Complete a tree inventory with current tree status and maintenance goals for both Wenatchee and Omak campuses.
  2. Develop and improve tree protection standards and enforcement policies.
  3. Continue mitigating for and recovering from water stress/management issues.
  4. Attain and maintain Tree Campus USA recognition.
  5. Label all trees with genus and species that are dedicated to 25-year employees.

 Tree Damage Assessment

  • Use tree inventory to provide assessment on most trees and create recommendations for independent third-party assessment of tree damage, particularly in cases of contracted construction projects. Contracts, plans and construction specs include specific language regarding penalties for noncompliance and any resulting tree damages.

 Prohibitied Practices

  • Using trees as bike racks;
  • Hanging hammocks or slacklines in thin-barked tree species without protective material in place;
  • Climbing trees without ANSI-compliant fall prevention systems;
  • Topping trees;
  • Lion-tailing;
  • Leaving branch stubs;
  • Making unnecessary heading cuts;
  • Removing more than 25 percent of the foliage of a single branch;
  • Removing more than 25 percent of the total tree foliage in a single year;
  • Damaging other parts of the tree during pruning.

Communication Strategies

Digital versions of the Tree Care Plan will be available publicly on the WVC’s website’s campus sustainability page.  WVC’s Sustainability Committee will refer to and distribute the Tree Care Plan as a reference and resource for committee members as well as interested community members.

 Definitions

  • ANSI: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private nonprofit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. This includes tree-care operations for trees, shrub and other woody plant maintenance.
  • Apical dominance: the condition in which the terminal bud inhibits the growth and development of the lateral buds on the same stem formed during the same season.
  • Biodiversity: the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, encompassing the evolutionary, ecological and cultural processes that sustain life.
  • DBH: diameter at breast-height.
  • Drip line: a tree’s drip line is determined by the lateral spread of its broadest branches.
  • Hardiness: genetically determined ability of a plant to survive low temperatures.
  • Heading cuts: pruning back to a bud, stub or lateral branch not large enough to assume apical dominance.
  • Integrated Pest Management: the method of preventing and controlling plant pests by combining biological, cultural, mechanical, physical and/or chemical management strategies.
  • Internode: the region of the stem between two nodes or growth points.
  • Lion-tailing: a pruning practice in which an excessive number of branches are thinned from the inside and lower parts of specific limbs or a tree’s crown, leaving mostly terminal foliage.
  • Mycorrhizae: a fungus that grows in association with the roots of a plant in a symbiotic or mildly pathogenic relationship.
  • Topping: cutting back a tree to a predetermined crown limit, often at internodes.
  • Trunk flare: the base of a tree trunk where the root system begins.

Resources

Sustainability at WVC:  https://www.wvc.edu/about/sustainability/

Cascadia Conservation District: http://cascadiacd.org/