Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability work across campus to improve the livability of our landscapes. A healthy environment contributes to our students’ success and provides a welcoming environment in our community.
As part of the Campus Landscape Enhancement Project, an Urban Forest (PDF [Portable Document Format File] , 616KB) was established along University Drive. The forest is a densely planted area, reminiscent of a Texas creek bed. More than 5,000 trees and shrubs were planted, many of them native to Texas. The varieties include Afghan Pines, Bur Oaks, Caddo Maples, Cedar Elms, Chinquapin Oaks, Magnolias, Pond Cypress and Shumard Oaks. The Urban Forest is set in a natural riparian corridor running through campus.
Cottonwood Creek also runs through campus. The West Fork of Cottonwood Creek runs along the west side of campus, through University Village. It ultimately joins other waterways at White Rock Lake, part of the Trinity River watershed.
With more than 6,700 trees on campus, and as the recipient of $50 million dollars for landscape enhancement, The University of Texas at Dallas is committed to maintaining our fabulous landscapes. To demonstrate that commitment, the University has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA®, a program that helps campuses establish and maintain healthy community forests.
To maintain that certification, UT Dallas has established a Tree Advisory Committee, a standing sub-committee of the Campus Sustainability Committee. A Tree Care Plan has been developed and implemented by Facilities Management. Tree Planting events take place annually on campus. Service learning events are hosted by the Office of Student Volunteerism, both on campus and with community partners.
The UT Dallas Tree Campus USA® program began in 2016.
UT Dallas sits in Texas’ Blackland Prairie. The Blackland Prairie region is a strip of dark, rich soil encompassing much of Dallas and following the I-35 corridor. Facilities Management has established a No-Mow Zone to encourage native prairie grasses and give plants an opportunity to reestablish. Mowing less and planting native species are a key part of our prairie restoration program. An eight-acre area on the southwest corner of campus is the home of the restoration and our largest Monarch Waystation. Native pollinators, like Monarch butterflies, Bumblebees, Mason Bees, and Honey Bees, are crucial to the proliferation of many flowering and fruit producing plants.
The Monarch Watch is a nonprofit managed by The University of Kansas. UT Dallas is located in the migratory path of the Monarch Butterfly. To encourage species recovery, we have planted native milkweed to serve as a breeding ground, and wildflowers to support all pollinators in their search for food. Through the Office of Student Volunteerism, students can participate in planting and maintaining the Monarch Waystation and Blackland Prairie Restoration.
The UT Dallas Community Garden program provides Comets with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of natural gardening and community greening. The garden was established in 2006 with an idea from the McDermott Scholars program and a grant from the UT Dallas Alumni Development Fund. Students, staff, faculty and alumni are all invited to host garden plots. Participants should contact the Office of Student Volunteerism to inquire about joining the Community Garden.
Composting is an important part of the campus waste management program. The UT Dallas Facilities Management program collects more than 1,200 pounds of plant materials such as grass clippings, tree branches and leaves, which is used to create compost and mulch. These organic materials are used on campus to grow healthy plants and to beautify the landscape.
The facilities team also collects pre-consumer food waste through a partnership with Dining Services. This material is added to the landscaping waste in windrows on a 4-acre plot that is dedicated to the University composting program. The team then carefully monitors and tends to the mixture, ensuring it aerates and cures correctly until it is ready to be used for landscaping and the campus flowerbeds. The full cycle takes between eight and 12 months.
The process allows the University to compost 100 percent of campus landscape waste. In addition, some of the landscape material is shredded directly into mulch. This mulch is used across campus to reduce our watering requirements and provide nutrients to our planting beds. By keeping these materials out of the consumer waste stream, the University has reduced emissions, costs and time associated with waste management.