North Lake College will plant 250 trees in its renovated parking lot this fall. Courtesy of North Lake College.

April 30, 2018

When it comes to trees, North Lake College in Irving has earned its bragging rights. 

For the fifth year in a row, the Dallas County Community College District campus received the Tree Campus USA Recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation.  

The 10-year-old program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.  

Chris Marrs, North Lake’s landscape supervisor and leader of the Tree Campus USA program, oversees student activities that include tree inventory, clean up and tree planting.

“The program is an excellent way to create new avenues for our students to help promote tree health and good stewardship,” said Marrs.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, trees significantly reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, along with the amount of energy a campus needs to generate. Green spaces also give students and faculty a setting to relax and study.  

Twenty-seven colleges and universities in Texas have received the Tree Campus USA designation, with 11 of those schools being in North Texas. Those schools are Brookhaven College, Dallas Baptist University, Eastfield College, Mountain View College, North Lake College, Northwood University Texas Campus, Richland College, Tarrant County College Southeast, Texas Christian University, The University of Texas at Dallas and University of North Texas.

At North Lake, there are plans to plant 250 more trees in conjunction with a parking lot renovation this fall, making a total of 750 trees campus-wide. 

Brandon Morton, sustainability director for North Lake, says the recognition reflects the college’s dedication to sustainability and offers a good model not just for campuses, but also for cities and businesses.   

With rural diversity declining do to agriculture and development, it’s more important than ever for urban institutions to provide biodiversity, he said.

Among the trees planted on campus, there are 15 native Texas and drought adaptive species: bald cypress, Bradford pear, cedar elm, Chinese pistache, chitalpa, crepe myrtle, desert willow, eastern redbud, female ginkgo, Japanese maple, magnolia, Muskogee crepe myrtle, pine, Texas ash, Texas live oak and Texas red oak.

North Lake promotes use of both native and adaptive plants in landscaping, said Morton.

“Many of the trees on our campus were planted by the Ben Carpenter Ranch before the North Lake College campus was built. The goal is to manage those trees as needed to prevent any spread [of invasives], and remove and replace them over time,” said Morton. “Biodiversity research experts have shown that ‘adaptive’ species can help to support biodiversity as the climate has been changing and traditional native species cannot adapt fast enough to keep up.” 

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