Tyler Raines knows trees, particularly those on the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus.
Since June, Raines, a junior forestry student from Warren, has worked closely with University Forester Chris Stuhlinger to compile and maintain a comprehensive inventory of every tree on campus, a daunting task made easier with new software and hardware that creates a file on each tree with its location, species, diameter and relative health.
Raines has an interest in urban forestry and tree care, known as arboriculture, and spent 10 to 20 hours a week during the summer working while attending classes. Raines used a tablet and GPS receiver to record the location of each tree along with vital statistics concerning the tree’s species, size and health.
UAM began conducting tree inventories in 1998. Stuhlinger came to Monticello in 2003 as the University Forester employed by the UA System’s Division of Agriculture. Stuhlinger, Dr. John Dennis, an assistant professor in UAM’s School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and Rusty Rippee, director of the physical plant, supervise the inventory process.
According to Stuhlinger, the inventory must be updated regularly as trees are planted and removed and as trees grow. The updated information allows Stuhlinger to determine which trees need periodic care.
For inventory purposes, the UAM campus is divided into 29 zones. Trees are numbered in each zone and each tree is tagged with an aluminum tag containing a five-digit number marking the zone and tree.
“We have almost 1,500 trees on campus,” said Stuhlinger, “and about 80 different species. The inventory includes all trees that are mowed under, about 1,300. We have a separate inventory for trees growing in beds.”
The inventory is used to keep track of trees that need pruning, mulching, pest control or removal. Some trees are placed on a watch list if they have a health condition that requires more frequent observation. According to Stuhlinger, the inventory list can be sorted to highlight certain trees or groups of trees with specific needs. All mulching is done by the UAM physical plant while any extensive pruning is done by an arborist.
Raines is pictured above (left) with Stuhlinger entering information about UAM trees using a tablet and GPS receiver.