Damaged trees cut

Bill Schiller, arborist for Tree Medics, removes a termite-infested oak tree from the Peace Quad during the summer.

Michael Giusti

Bill Schiller, arborist for Tree Medics, removes a termite-infested oak tree from the Peace Quad during the summer.

Michael Giusti

A termite infestation forced university officials to order the removal of a nearly 50-foot-tall oak tree from the Peace Quad during the summer break.

The infestation pre-dated Hurricane Katrina, said Rick Howard, university groundskeeper, but he said damage had since progressed to the point that the tree posed a danger to Bobet Hall and to passers-by.

“That tree was so big, if so much as one of the limbs would have fallen while someone was walking by, it could easily have killed them,” Howard said. “And with that old building right next to it, there was no point in risking keeping it up.”

The tree was flagged during a routine inspection, and was deemed too far gone to save, said Chip Smith, assistant director for Physical Plant.

Howard said more trees will have to come down throughout the year, including a row of stately oaks on the Broadway Campus that were damaged during Hurricane Katrina, which hit Aug. 29, 2005.

“It’s a real shame, because we will never see the campus have as rich a tree canopy as it did before the storm again in our lifetimes,” Howard said.

In all, the university has been forced to remove about 40 trees over the past year.

“Students are going to come back and wonder where this tree, or that tree went. But what they need to know is that the trees we are cutting down are so severely damaged that we had no choice,” he said. “They were getting to the point that they were dangerous and we need to take action.”

The university contracted with local arborist Tree Medics to remove the tree from the Peace Quad.

Michael Giusti can be reached at [email protected]