Approximately 1,000 trees were planted on campus Friday in an effort to rehabilitate the Second Creek corridor.
UT Facilities Services worked with more than seventy volunteers to plant the saplings along the creek’s bank. The event marked Tennessee Arbor Day, held on the first Friday of March.
Four Facilities Services subunits, Landscape Services Arboriculture, Stormwater Management, the Office of Sustainability, and UT Recycling, organized the planting, which is part of a larger campus project.
“It has been my dream to rehabilitate this stream corridor since I came to UT two years ago,” said Stormwater Coordinator Garrett Ferry. “This is a great addition to the existing capital project in the area.”
The capital project includes the clearing of all plant material within the first fifteen feet of the Estabrook Road sidewalk. The planting project, which was made possible by three separate grants, goes a step further by clearing all invasive species from the bank in that area.
Project grants included grants of $500 and $800 from TWRA and a $20,000 grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency approved through the Student Environmental Initiatives fee, also known as the Green Fee.
“This is a great example of the student Green Fee implementing better projects on campus,” said Sustainability Manager Preston Jacobsen.
This addition to the project helped to clear all of the invasive species from the full clearing zone all the way to the stream, which allowed crews and volunteers to come back and plant the native trees.
“Invasive species are typically poorly suited to stabilize riparian zones due to shallow root systems,” Ferry said. “Native species actually have a much more robust root system that can grab on and stabilize the banks much more efficiently.”
From a water quality standpoint, these trees will also prevent erosion and will soak up water to prevent swelling of the creek’s volume.
“Any time you are slowing that water down you are improving water quality,” said Ferry.
“The more we plant, the better we are going to be as far as energy conservation with the shading of hard surfaces and buildings,” said arborist Sam Adams. “In addition, we are storing carbon, absorbing carbon dioxide, and releasing oxygen—all the positive benefits that you can get from having additional trees.”
The cost of the saplings made up a small portion of the grants provided. With the additional money, Facilities Services will plant larger native trees to preserve the shading of the creek. This will take place during the next few weeks and in the fall.
Brook Krempa (firstname.lastname@example.org)