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November 5, 2004

Plans for Tree Removal Explained

Over the coming winter, the Mount Holyoke grounds crew will remove trees that are in danger of failing due to a combination of factors including stress, decay, disease, and old age, according to Ellen Shukis, director of the College’s botanic garden. “The reason is people’s safety,” said Shukis, who is concerned that misinformation is spreading on campus about the tree removal program.

As Shukis explained, the maturing tree canopy on campus is monitored closely for potentially dangerous conditions. The College has identified 26 trees that pose a risk to pedestrians and vehicles on campus.

Even though a tree appears healthy, said Shukis, it may be compromised. Since 1990 many more trees have been planted on campus than have been removed. Shukis and her staff have arranged, when possible, to relocate trees that have been in the path of underground utilities or construction projects, and plans are under way to replace trees that will be removed this winter.

Shukis led a foliage walk on Family and Friends Weekend and identified some of the trees targeted for removal. “Before we even left the greenhouse, parents were asking me about the trees being cut down. I showed them the decay, cracks, and cavities as we walked, and they saw the problem for themselves. They said, ‘Of course, take them down.’ Once people really look at them they see there isn’t any doubt.”

According to Shukis, winter is the best time to cut down trees, because the ground is frozen and heavy machinery will cause less soil compaction. In addition, tree removal is safest when there are few people around who might be struck by falling branches.

Most of the removed wood will not be reused because it is decaying. On occasions when a healthy tree needs to be taken down, the College sends the wood to be milled for use in carpentry projects on campus.


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