Norway Maple Leaves

History of the WSU Arboretum & Wildlife Conservation Center

The creation of the WSU Arboretum & Wildlife Conservation Center is a story of determination, patience, and a vision for the future. During its long history of growth, Washington State University actually started several small arboretum sites, but each time, the trees were consumed by the growing demands of buildings in the central campus. Some of the earliest proposals for creation of a dedicated arboretum site began in the 1970’s with the formation of the WSU Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee.

But the idea would not take root for quite some time. In the 1990’s, Leo Bustad, former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, proposed the Centennial Tree Planting of 100 trees on the west side of campus near the President’s house. Later, Round Top Park was created on the northeast edge of campus as a tribute to professor Jerry Newbrey.

In 1999, a formal site for the Alumni Arboretum was dedicated on a scenic hilltop by Wilson Road adjacent to the WSU Alumni Center. Since then, the WSU Alumni Association has funded a leaf-imprinted walkway and brick work for the hilltop arboretum and trees have been added each year through presidential tree plantings and distinctive specimen trees donated annually by students in the Horticulture Club. Although the site is young, it already provides a beautiful setting for visitors to the Alumni Center and Pullman campus.

Finally, in 2008, WSU President Elson S. Floyd and the WSU Board of Regents approved a faculty proposal for the creation of a 100 acre arboretum on the WSU Pullman Campus when former agricultural land used by the USDA became available. This 100 acre site contains experimental grasslands, shrubs, and tree plantings evaluated for conservation purposes starting in the 1930’s. Consequently, the WSU Arboretum & Wildlife Conservation Center comes into existence on a landscape already containing desirable and valuable environmental features.

For more information, see: WSU Today