Colorado College has been recognized by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs with its Award of Excellence for Stewardship of a Historic Landscape. The award commends the college for its arboretum and stewardship of its property, recognizes CC Arborist Michael Spruce as the steward, and lauds CC “in preserving our shared heritage.”
The HPA’s stewardship award “recognizes best practices in preservation maintenance for properties, sites or spaces which have maintained their historic integrity over time, including the historic, distinctive and character-defining features of the property through careful and consistent stewardship.”
Colorado Springs resident and longtime HPA member Judith Rice-Jones ’66, who nominated Colorado College for the award, says she did so to acknowledge “the college’s care of campus trees and serving as the de facto arboretum for our city, the second largest in Colorado — and one without either a public arboretum or a botanical garden.”
Colorado College, located on 100 acres, has more than 2,400 trees on campus that “create the unique sense of place that is Colorado College,” says Spruce.
“Preservation and stewardship of CC’s trees has always been and continues to be my top priority in my day to day work,” he says. “Our trees are witnesses to CC's history, change and evolution over the last nearly 150 years and each of them has a story to tell. I feel privileged to be able to work among them each day and am thankful for the trust that the CC community has given to me.”
In the nomination, Rice-Jones notes that “the CC campus is the site of multiple community events, lectures, plays, concerts and functions… In addition to providing a unique opportunity to see such a diversity of trees, the campus has proven to be an excellent caretaker of this legacy. As research continues as how best to address global warming, the evidence for the importance of biodiversity increases. Again, in that respect, CC is a regional and statewide leader.”
The nomination also notes that “Colorado College housed the first forestry program in Colorado until replaced by that of Colorado State University. The college has always employed an arborist to care for the trees and has been exceptionally responsible in replacing trees after wind and ice storms. Over the past decades, CSU Extension classes have regularly used the campus trees as the site for teaching future Master Gardeners the variety and care of trees. The variety of CC trees is approached only by that of the Denver Botanic Gardens.”
Colorado College offers a Campus Tree Tour and has been the recipient of the Tree Campus USA Designation from the Arbor Day Foundation annually from 2016 through 2019. The program recognizes colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
“I feel honored that Judith nominated our campus trees and that the HPA agreed with her nomination,” says Spruce. “This award, along with our Tree Campus USA designation, reaffirms that CC is committed to responsible and sustainable environmental stewardship.”
In the nomination, Rice-Jones provided historic background regarding the trees on campus and the nearby area, noting that Gen. William Jackson Palmer not only provided land for the college, but also numerous trees. Additionally Palmer insured the survival of trees by the establishment of the El Paso Canal, which brought water from Fountain Creek to irrigate trees. He also provided detailed instructions on how to care for the trees; that letter is in CC’s Special Collections along with other letters of his regarding tree issues in which he sought expertise and advice from others.