University of Southern Maine Arboretum

History

       The dual catastrophe unleashed by nature in the form of the devastating ice storm of January 1998 and the microburst in August of the same year caused immense, and in many cases irreversible damage to the USM Gorham campus's historic landscaping.  Despite intensive restorative efforts undertaken by USM's Facilities Management crews and independent arborists, approximately 175 trees, many of which were 80 to 120 years old, were lost; including countless native species such as  northern red oak, sugar maple, and eastern white pine. 

Arboretum Ice Storm

       In order to begin to compensate for the extensive loss of trees, campus arborists began to plan for the future of the campus's landscaping.  After conducting a comprehensive landscape survey, it became apparent that the enhancement of tree species diversity would be beneficial for resistance to future catastrophe, and would serve as a botanical teaching tool for students and community members.  Therefore, a decision was made to increase tree species diversity by creating a campus arboretum.

       The arboretum project gained momentum and support with a grant from the Maine Forest Service as part of the Ice Storm Relief Fund appropriated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  A formal kickoff ceremony was conducted on Earth Day, April 22, 2001; the USM Arboretum walking tour was initiated with the signing of the Tallories Declaration for Campus Sustainability by USM President Richard Pattenaude on April 19, 2002. 

        Monitoring and enhancement activities for the Arboretum's collection of trees are ongoing in an effort to predict and provide for the future viability and diversity of the campus landscape.