Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.76
Liaison Mark Klapatch-Mathias
Submission Date Feb. 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Wisconsin-River Falls
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Joe McIntosh
Grounds Maintenance
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Gravel Tree Bed

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the City of River Falls collaborated on an innovation consisting of a gravel tree bed on campus. Campus provided resources including space at one of our campus farms as well as a water line to the area. The city provided the gravel as well as the trees. The reason why this qualifies for an innovation is because of the collaboration required to complete this project along with the advantages a gravel tree bed provides over traditional tree planting options. The advantages are noted below:

- Properly placed trees can save money and energy. Shade tress on the south and west sides of home sand buildings assist with keeping buildings cooler in the summer but then letting light in in the winter. Trees are also a natural air filter, removing dust and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, while adding oxygen.
- Gravel beds save the community and campus money because they utilize bare root stock, which is readily available in spring. Bare root stock is typically 1/2 the price of containerized trees and 1/4 the price of balled and burlap trees.
- Gravel beds improve the plant’s health and survival rate because trees planted in a community gravel bed will have an increased fibrous root system. An increased fibrous root system allows the tree to readily take up water and nutrients thus decreasing the effects of transplant shock.
- Gravel beds increase species availability because there are typically more species available as bare root stock than in containerized or balled and burlap stock.
- Since there is a greater species availability in bare root stock in spring, gravel beds allow for bare root stock to be planted in the fall to avoid droughts that can happen over the summer months.
- Gravel beds reduce a community’s vulnerability to insects and disease by leading to a more diverse urban forest.

There were a total of 50 trees planted in the gravel bed in 2017. Due to the partnership, UWRF was able to use a dozen of these trees on campus on our boulevards as well as outside some of our buildings. The city also used some trees for boulevards and in a few of the city parks. The remaining trees were then offered to residents of River Falls through a tree power incentive program. Residents could purchases the trees at a substantially reduced rate if they agreed and worked with the city forester to plant them on the south and west sides of their homes. As noted above, this reduces the amount of energy required to heat/cool and light homes.

In 2017, all 50 trees were planted. Due to the success of the program, the university and the city have talked about expanding the program to allow for more trees to be planted. At a minimum, the gravel bed tree program has proven to be successful and will continue in upcoming years.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Public Engagement
Coordination & Planning

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.