Today is Arbor Day and the University of Iowa is using the occasion to unveil a website and mobile application providing information on the roughly 8,000 trees on the Iowa City campus.
UI arborist Mike Rhinehart says they’ve been working on the interactive tree inventory for over three years.
“You can click on a single tree and it’ll pop up with its common name, its scientific name, its measurements – how tall, how wide – and if there are any special notes…if it was a memorial tree, a donated tree, or a state champion tree,” Rhinehart said.
The state champion tree program is run by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. There are currently seven state champion trees on the University of Iowa campus. One is a Black Walnut tree on the east lawn of Macbride Hall. The new mobile app includes a recent photo of the tree and one taken 113 years ago.
“In the 1903 photo, (the tree) is probably already 10 or 15 years old,” Rhinehart said. “We’re guessing it’s a roughly 130 year old tree now.” Users of the app can stand anywhere on campus and learn about the condition, size, and species of a particular tree. Rhinehart expects there will be a variety of potential users.
“It’s good for contractors who have to come in and do construction work or student groups that are working on a tree project. They can just get right into it and use it instead of asking us specific questions or whatever. People can just go in and find out all the information that we know,” Rhinehart said. The tree inventory also gives campus arborists a snapshot of the environment — from how much carbon dioxide is stored to storm water run-off retention.
The UI is also marking Arbor Day by planting even more trees on campus.