Tree Campus USA
Nearly all Dakota College at Bottineau’s documents and publications begin with the statement, “We opened our doors in 1906 as the North Dakota School of Forestry”. No one will dispute the long and treasured history Dakota College at Bottineau has with the North Dakota Forest Service, but this long-standing marriage has recently renewed its vows. Over the years, Dakota College at Bottineau and the North Dakota Forest Service have become two separate agencies that have shared a common roof on campus. Recently the North Dakota Forest Service moved a Forest Stewardship position to Bottineau that would work with private landowners in the region and designated time, one day a week, to working specifically with the college to promote agro-forestry and forest conservation activities on Dakota College at Bottineau’s campus. With the approval of Campus Dean Dr. Jerry Migler and then State Forester Larry Kotchman, the job description was written and Cody Clemenson, a 2010 graduate of Dakota College at Bottineau, was hired.
One of the first projects was to help Dakota College at Bottineau become a Tree Campus USA under the Arbor Day Foundation, a unique distinction considering the college’s history. To achieve this Cody used GPSs to map and inventory all the trees on campus. After the initial map was completed, Cody worked with DCB staff to compose the Tree Campus USA application which included the building of an annual plan for tree care and improvement, the formation of a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree program with annual expenditures, and observance of Arbor Day, which the college does annually on Earth Day with the planting of a new tree. Lastly, Cody and the DCB staff assisted students in a learning project which consisted of removal of many buckthorn, an undesirable species, from campus grounds. DCB was granted Tree Campus USA standing for the 2019 calendar year and will continue to complete these objectives each year to maintain being a Tree Campus USA.
The North Dakota State Forest Service also hired a consultant company to create a plan in conjunction with DCB staff for the campus grounds that would assist in DCB using its outdoor areas as classrooms, community gathering and outdoor recreation areas. The ideas incorporated into the plan were collaborated with input from the North Dakota Forest Service and staff from Dakota College at Bottineau. In the end, this team of DCB and State Forest Service staff have created renewed vigor for forestry on campus and will provide a unique demonstration and educational areas for students and the public to learn about different agroforestry practices.
This comprehensive plan, to be implemented in phases over the next five to ten years, will result in spaces inclusive of students, college, and community use and education in the importance of forestry activities. Grants and additional funding sources will be sought to complete the work.
Areas within the plan include tree and berry orchards, community walking paths, Christmas tree production, nut and wood production demonstration, mushroom production, a legacy forest, pine and birch product production, pollinator habitat, and educational stations and signage. All of these different demonstration areas will allow the North Dakota Forest Service the opportunity to show interested landowners visuals and the maintenance needs of these systems. It will allow students at Dakota College at Bottineau the opportunity to learn about these systems and add additional hands-on learning experiences for the students. We also hope the educational trail system will help tie into the local community and allow those in the area to visit the college and learn from these demonstration areas with the use of signage. All of this is thoughtfully planned within the current college ECH gardens and utilizes other parts of the college that will allow for handicap accessible trails and walkways for everyone to explore about the individual areas.
The renewal of the relationship between DCB and the North Dakota State Forest Service has re-energized all involved with this project and the plan to pursue joint ventures with renewed vigor. All involved have a commitment to sharing the joy and ecological importance of trees and tree products with the students and community. The North Dakota State Forest Service and DCB Horticulture staff would invite you to ‘Watch Us Grow’ as implementation of the plan progresses.