Campus News

Arborist Stacy Borden Cares for UK Trees, Young and Old

photo of Stacy Borden with Picus 3 Sonic Tomograph
photo of Stacy Borden measuring tree
photo of student Taylor Renfro helping Stacy Borden measure a tree
photo of Stacy Borden
computer image of inside of a tree

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 28, 2017) The man who recently became the University of Kentucky’s arborist senior brings a lot of expertise and life experience to the job.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, Stacy Borden became familiar with trees native to the northeastern region of the United States. Studying horticulture in the state of Washington, Borden got an up close and personal look at trees native to the northwestern section of this country. Thirteen years ago, he moved to what legendary writer Jesse Stuart referred to as the "heart" of the nation, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to continue his career pursuits in arboriculture, the care, cultivation and management of trees and shrubs.

The owner and operator of his own company, Sound Tree Preservation near Olympia, Washington, for three years, Borden accepted a job as operations manager and plant health care specialist for Dave Leonard, the consulting arborist of Lexington, in 2004. After seven years with that company, he started New Leaf Consulting LLC after earning the designation of registered consulting arborist. Borden later became operations manager for The Tree Man. In the fall of 2016, he applied and was selected for the position of arborist senior at UK, beginning his duties in December.

“It was always a goal of mine to be able to work for an institution where I could guide the long-term management of a collection of trees,” Borden said.

Borden pointed out that trees possess numerous tangible and intangible assets which positively impact the quality of our environment and our lives.

“Trees have many quantifiable benefits like storm water interception, particulate filtration, energy savings from shading, and blocking wind. The less quantifiable, yet no less important, are the benefits trees have on our psychological and physical health. Trees provide solace in times of stress and can accelerate recovery times during hospitalizations when there is a view of a tree or even a photograph of one on the wall. And trees can provide a great physical workout when proper climbing techniques are learned,” Borden said.

In his job, Borden reports to the superintendent of grounds for UK’s Physical Plant Division (PPD).

His responsibilities as arborist senior include, yet go well beyond, the nearly 700 contiguous acres which make up UK’s main campus in Lexington. Borden also oversees tree care for The Club at Spindletop, The Ecological Research and Education Center (EREC) on Russell Cave Road, and Adena Park, which is located off of Mount Horeb Pike in northern Fayette County.

“As arborist senior I am responsible for the care and management of all of our trees,” Borden said. “I direct the day-to-day pruning and removal operations and assess trees daily to determine immediate and future needs. I also oversee tree protection during construction projects, review planting plans for new projects, and ensure that standards are being followed for tree protection and tree installation.”

Borden works with UK project managers, the storm water management team, and the Office of Sustainability to keep trees at the forefront of consideration and to develop standards that will ensure UK keeps the tree canopy it has and works to improve conditions to increase the canopy in the future.

If trees could talk, several of the oldest trees on campus could give you an eyewitness account of much of UK’s more than 150 years of history.

“The bur oak behind the Main Building and the bur oak at the front of the Gatton College of Business and Economics building are the same age,” Borden said. “It’s estimated that both were planted in the 1890s.”

Borden is helping UK reach out beyond the campus to work with other entities to develop a more integrated approach to managing greater Lexington’s trees and natural environment.

“Together with the Forest Health Research and Education Center, we support the Urban Forest Initiative in all of its efforts, as well as Trees Lexington and other local groups working to improve the urban forest.”

Borden is enthusiastic about a collaborative project involving PPD; the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, including the Department of Forestry and the Department of Landscape Architecture; the College of Design; the College of Fine Arts; the UK Alumni Association; and the Urban Forest Initiative to develop a wood utilization program.

“When fully implemented, this program will upcycle all of the wood from the trees that have to be removed and keep valuable natural resources from being turned into mulch,” Borden said. “We plan to set up a small processing facility close to campus where we will take logs and other wood sections that can be milled. The milled wood will supplement the wood used in the College of Design, as well as to potentially make furniture for new buildings that displaced the tree.”

And there is more, according to Borden.

“The College of Fine Arts will have access to milled wood and other pieces suitable for carving and turning. There are numerous possibilities to utilize the wood produced here on campus.”

UK recently received recognition as a Tree Campus USA for the sixth consecutive year. Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

“It is an honor and privilege to be working at the University of Kentucky as the arborist senior,” Borden said. “I look forward to all of the challenges and rewards the job has to offer.”

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue