Tue. May 17th, 2022

Clare Haggerty’s September 15 article “Renovation to the Academic Quad leaves students with mixed feelings” was interesting, and captured a range of feelings from students. In light of some of the comments, we would like to clarify the management of campus trees and the University’s commitment to our Strategic and Climate Action Plans.

West Chester University has a strong commitment to both regional and global sustainability, as well as reducing our ecological impact. In 1973, WCU affirmed its support for Earth Day and tree covered ecosystems by establishing the 87 acre Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies. This ecological treasure island in a sea of development serves as an important educational and research center for the region.

There is a long history of tree planting and tree care on our beautiful campus. The large and beautiful trees on the north side of the Great Lawn (or should we say Academic Quad?) attest to that history.  One of those trees, the Bartram Oak, is the largest specimen of that species in the world! If you look closely you will note it is fitted with lighting rods for its protection. Could you imagine Church St without its majestic London plane trees?

In 2013, the WCU became one of only nine colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to receive a Tree Campus USA designation. This designation requires that WCU has a tree care policy (http://www.wcupa.edu/_INFORMATION/AFA/Facilities/Grounds/Policies/policyTreeCare.asp) and a Tree Campus USA Committee with multiple stakeholders. In our case, the committee is comprised of members of the faculty, student body, Grounds staff and a Borough representative.

The Tree Campus Committee and the Sustainability Advisory Council are strong partners with Facilities Design as they prepare plans and carry out new construction, such as the Great Lawn (Academic Quad). We discussed the trees to be removed and what species would replace those trees. The protection of those trees that would be left near the construction zone was also discussed.

Our Tree Care Policy calls for two trees planted for every tree being removed. We have more than met that goal. Twenty tree trees were removed for the Great Lawn. Sixteen new trees have been planted around the Great Lawn. These new trees have been carefully selected and for the most part replace trees that were not healthy. A Rutgers pink dogwood, Red Sunset Maples, Serbian spruces, and white oaks have been planted, and two trees will be added to the Conifer Arboretum at Tanglewood. Seven more trees will be planted in the spring. Six trees were planted in the Gordon Area by the Board of Governors Scholar’s in late August, and eight trees were planted by Goshen Hall a few weeks ago. On October 22, 300 more trees will be planted in the Gordon Area.

Last year, three hundred and sixty five trees were planted in the field west of the Village and 159 trees were planted around East Village. On North Campus, trees have been planted around all the new dorms, the Student Recreation Center, and New Street Garage. Our tree planting and tree care programs are strong, and we are actively working to carry out our environmental sustainability mission.

Be assured that there are faculty, staff, students and administrators that care very much for all our campus trees. We love our trees and want to make sure they are beautiful, healthy, and safe to be around. The next meeting for the Sustainability Advisory Council is Friday, October 10 at 1 pm in the Phillips Memorial Hall Boardroom on the third floor. All are invited to attend, and we offer many different ways to participate in creating a more sustainable WCU.

Kristen Crossney is an Associate Professor at the West Chester Univsersity Sustainability Council. She can be reached at (610) 430-5838.

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