Five pin oaks to be removed from MU Quad due to poor health

1 month 2 days 18 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 10:17:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
By: Alayna Chapie, KOMU 8 Reporter and Siena DeBolt, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

COLUMBIA - Work to remove several large pin oaks from Mizzou's Francis Quadrangle began Monday after a recent study showed the trees' health is declining.

Mizzou officials said five of the twenty pin oaks required urgent attention, and while arborists will try to keep the other fifteen alive as long as possible, they will likely need removal in the future.

"What will be happening over the next several years is that they will begin moving all of the pin oaks from the quad with a plan that we will be replacing all of them with another type of oak trees," Christian Basi, spokesman for MU, said. 

According to a news release, the trees were planted in the 1950s, but have had declining health "due in part to not being in their native habitat and the addition of irrigation to the Francis Quadrangle in the 1990s, which changed the composition of the soil."

"The soil in the area of the quad is not the most ideal circumstances for the pin oaks so they have aged a little quicker than they would have if they were out in a another part of the area," Basi said. 

The compacted clay soil "causes stress and that shortens the life span of pin oak trees significantly," according to an email sent by Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward on Monday. 

One concern surrounding the trees is over the potential for falling limbs and causing injuries to people walking near the trees.

Native white oak trees will replace the pin oaks being removed Monday. Basi said the trees won't be replaced immediately. 

"We will have replacement trees within the next year to two years on the quad," Basi said. "What we are doing is actually, we had several dozen trees donated to the university. We are going to be planting them in our nursery making sure that when we select a tree to put on the quad that it is consistent with the look that we want the quad to be in the next serval decades." 

One Mizzou student said she is happy they are taking the trees down for safety reasons, but she did enjoy relaxing under the trees. 

"During the school year, and when it's not so hot, I enjoyed eating my lunch and doing my homework out on the quad. It was just a nice way to relax and without all that shade, I'm not sure how much I will be out there this year," said Mary Downes, MU student. 

A study by the Mizzou Botanic Garden Friends Advisory Board's Tree Commission found that white oak trees fit the environment and soil of the Quad. 

Basi said the native white oaks are expected to live as long as 200 years. 

A fundraising campaign The Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quadrangle is being held to help replace the pin oak trees. 

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