Many trees are removed on campus each year for the safety of the Pacific community. The 66-year-old birches that lined the walkway between Jefferson and Warner Halls were more than just diseased trees. They held a historical importance to the university.
“I don’t know how much the community knows about the walk,” said Alpha Zeta President Ryan Newman.
The birch trees were planted in 1948 to commemorate the 31 faculty and students who died in World War II. It was dedicated by the Alpha Zeta fraternity and named The Alpha Zeta Walk.
These trees were removed during the weekend of July 4 due to root rot along with other trees in around Trombley Square. Director of Media Relations Joe Lang said the university hires an arborist during fall and spring semesters to evaluate the trees on campus.
Last December, one of the Alpha Zeta Walk birch trees fell through a window in Jefferson Hall because of root rot.
The university waited to remove the trees until July, because it was when the least number of people would be on campus.
“We are proactive about the removal of the trees based on the arborist’s suggestions,” said Lang.
The area was replanted with 11 white oak trees in mid August.
“That part of campus is mostly oak trees so it made sense to expand them down toward Jefferson and Warner,” said the Center for a Sustainable Society Director John Hayes.
The university complied with the city of Forest Grove on the tree removal. Lang said the university was sensitive to all constituents in the city and university community.
“This is a reflection of the care and connections all residents have to the university,” said Lang.
While the university staff members were conscious of the Forest Grove community, the Alpha Zeta fraternity wasn’t notified about the tree removal.
“I actually didn’t know they were being taken down until I saw a Facebook post this summer,” said Newman.
When Newman found out about the removal, he was enthusiastic to have Alpha Zeta’s be a part of the replanting, yet they were never contacted.
“It’s a big deal at least to us,” said Newman. “I understand why they were removed, but instead of us trying to reach out to the university, they should have reached out to us.”
Newman said he hopes the university contacts him about having a ceremony for the new oak trees, to once again commemorate the World War II memorial.
“I think it’d be great for the AZ’s to get our name out there about the walk,” said Newman. “We’re more than willing to help put on a ceremony.”
The trees, costing $2,000 each, were paid for by the facilities department, which has a budget for tree planting.
President Lesley Hallick talked about the importance of improving the canopy on campus for shade and also aesthetical appeal.
“The white oak is a healthy tree that will live a long time,” said Hallick.
Hayes said white oaks can live up to 200 years.