The Fairmont State Arboretum: What It Is and How to Get Involved

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Molly Simpson, Staff Reporter

The Creative Sustainability Council, in partnership with the Facilities department, will celebrate Earth Day this year by introducing a new project: the Fairmont State Arboretum. The arboretum on the hill between Pence Hall and Prichard Hall will include 14 flowering trees, ornamental grasses, and wildflowers. The addition of these plants will reduce water runoff and erosion and promote slope stability. The spring and summer blooms will also bring a pop of color to campus and support pollinators like bees and butterflies. Dr. Philips will plant the first tree on Friday, the 21st of April. This planting will be one of several Earth Day-themed activities the Creative Sustainability Council planned during April. 

To ensure the success of the saplings, the Facilities department has taken a soil sample from the area and, using the results from their analysis, will amend the soil with a special mixture of nutrients during the planting. Six tree varieties will be used for the arboretum, including the Eastern Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, Sugar Tyme Crabapple, Fauer Flowering Pear, Styrax Japanese Snowbell, and Seven-Son Flower. These cold-hardy trees thrive in Zone 6B, the climate zone for much of West Virginia. The ground surrounding the trees will be seeded with a wildflower mixture and resemble the wildflower hill at the solar panels next to the library.  

The Fairmont State Arboretum is part of the larger Sustainable Grounds Initiative, which seeks to return high-erosion areas back to natural vegetation. Because of the Sustainable Grounds Initiative, areas like the hill between the Turley Center and Wallman Hall and the steep area between the Education Building and the library have intentionally been left unmown to support native plant growth. In the future, the Facilities department plans to add solar-powered charging umbrellas to outdoor study spaces and create more pollinator-friendly landscapes.  

The space dedicated to the Fairmont State Arboretum can support a total of 14 flowering trees. The Creative Sustainability Council seeks student organizations or clubs to sponsor trees for this project. Each tree costs $250 and will arrive as a 3-6 feet tall sapling. This cost includes the purchase and shipment of the tree, the planting, and the soil treatment. Once the arboretum has been fully planted, a permanent sign will be erected at the south entrance of Prichard Hall with information regarding the arboretum and its purpose.  

If you or your organization would like to purchase a tree for the Fairmont State Arboretum, please contact Dr. J Robert Baker (senior professor of English), Dr. Erica Harvey (faculty sponsor for the Creative Sustainability Council), or one of the CSC’s student leaders: Allison Quigley (president), Abby Peterman (vice president), or Molly Simpson (secretary).