University of the Cumberlands recently achieved recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation as a 2019 Tree Campus USA. Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.
To obtain this distinction, University of the Cumberlands met the five core standards for an effective campus forest management, including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service learning projects.
“Our designation as a Tree Campus USA reflects the devotion of the many campus and community members who work hard to make sure we meet all the benchmarks for increasing tree cover on campus. We're eager to continue our work and invite others to join us,” said Dr. Sara Ash, biology professor and member of the Tree Advisory Committee on campus. Ash founded the Committee in 2017.
In a speech to faculty and staff before classes began this fall, Cumberlands President Larry Cockrum announced that the University has also been approved by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Green Forest Works, U.S. Forest Service, and the Kentucky Division of Forestry to convert surface-mined land which the University owns into forestland. Cumberlands plans to plant approximately 60,000 upland oak and shortleaf pine trees on the property.
On Cumberlands’ campus itself, as exotic species of trees that are not native to the area have died naturally, Cumberlands has replaced them with native species. This is the University’s way of supporting natural ecosystems, trying to re-establish small natural “forest” areas, and highlight the beautiful native Kentucky species.