Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281
Wayne H. Smith (352) 846-0850
Mary L. Duryea (352) 846-0896
GAINESVILLE—Sixty native trees will be planted at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation on Thursday (May 15, 1997).
The trees will form the new Lake Mize Tree Walk, a half-mile-long trail that will include cypress trees, elms, hawthorns, live oaks, swamp chestnut oaks, yaupon hollies and other native trees, said Mary Duryea, associate professor at the school and coordinator of the 2:30 p.m. tree-planting event.
“The new tree walk will help people appreciate the diversity and beauty of Florida’s native forest trees,” said Duryea. “The walk also will have flowering trees, including fringe trees, magnolias and redbuds. The trail will be used for tree identification courses and provide conference center visitors with an educational experience and a pleasant walk through the pine forests that surround the lake. The tree walk will begin and end with three Sabal Palmettos, Florida’s official state tree.”
The trees will be planted by graduates or “captains” from each of the school’s 60 graduating classes from 1938 to 1997. Each tree will be labeled with both common and Latin names along with the date of the graduating class.
The 60th anniversary celebration program begins at 1:30 p.m. with welcoming remarks from Larry Connor, dean for academic programs in the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. James Davidson, vice president for agriculture and natural resources, will discuss the school’s progress and expectations for the future. Bob Swinford, professor emeritus, will describe the school in its founding year of 1937. Scott Sager, a student who graduates this year, will talk about the school program in 1997.
Wayne Smith, director of the school, will outline school accomplishments and its vision for the future. He said 2,265 students, including 373 with advanced degrees, have graduated during the school’s 60 year history.
“The private and public sectors have been very pleased with the quality of our graduates. Our faculty has been very successful in attracting grant funding and private support for teaching, research and extension programs. The school has been a pioneer in working with the forestry industry in research on forest management and forest biology such as ecology, biotechnology and agroforestry,” Smith said.
During the past 10 years, the school’s faculty has attracted $12.7 million in grants, contracts and gifts for research and education programs. The school’s faculty typically publishes 90 scientific papers each year on their research and education programs.
“These programs have helped improve the genetic stock, silvicultural practices and management strategies to greatly improve the productivity, health and sustainability of Florida forests,” Smith explained. “Professional forest managers from our school have helped Florida’s forest industry become an $8 billion annual enterprise.”
“At the same time,” he added, “the green space values and ecological services provided by forests at little cost to Florida citizens are now better understood because of programs in our school. We are well positioned for the 21st century.”
Smith said Florida has been a consistent national leader in reforestation. According to a university study, one acre of trees can produce 942 one-pound books, 88,870 sheets of standard letterhead bond paper, 460,000 personalized checks, 4,000 one-gallon milk cartons, and 12 eight-person dining tables.
He said the state has more tree canopy today than in the past because of modern forest management practices and a growing appreciation for trees in the urban environment.
“We are pleased to see that people now treasure the urban forest as much as the rural forest, and we must do everything possible to increase the tree canopy in our urban areas. In addition to providing the oxygen we all require, trees provide shade to keep our urban areas from becoming heat islands,” Smith explained.