UTRGV Brownsville campus shoots for special tree designation

BROWNSVILLE — Arbor Day came a month late to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Brownsville thanks to uncooperative weather, though it finally arrived on Monday, when a brief ceremony was held on campus and a live oak tree symbolically planted near the library.

Even the sun showed up for the occasion.

Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, describing himself as an “original tree hugger,” read a proclamation from the City Commission designating Dec. 5 as Arbor Day for the campus.

UTRGV Edinburg has already gone through the process to be designated a “Tree Campus USA” and now UTRGV Brownsville is following suit.

The city’s official proclamation cited some of the attributes of trees, including their role in promoting human health and well being, absorbing carbon dioxide, adding beauty to communities, improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and providing shade, clean air and wildlife habitat.

The city continues to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining a “healthy urban forest,” by conducting ongoing tree-planting projects in city-owned parks, right-of-ways and medians, according to the proclamation.

“It’s part of who we are and it’s part of what we do,” Martinez said. “We should all embrace these efforts.”

Still reading from the proclamation, the mayor encouraged Brownsville residents “to celebrate by planting and caring for trees, supporting efforts to protect our trees, and promoting the well being of current and future generations.”

Rick Anderson, UTRGV executive vice president for finance and administration, said campus urban forestry research will support Brownsville’s existing “Tree CityUSA” designation as well as UTRGV Brownsville’s future “Tree Campus USA” designation.

Anderson said the designation requires a commitment to forestry, tree planting and other measures, and documentation for how it will be accomplished.

“Some of our faculty and our students that are in environmental science and sustainability programs and stuff will help,” he said. “Part of it’s a documentation process about your commitment to doing some things.”

The first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska in 1872.